Top image: Bruce Nauman, ‘Seven Figures’, 1985. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Click on the Stedelijk Museum’s homepage and you will be greeted by several neon people all having a jolly good time. This is not a flyer for some cool techno club with a strict door policy but Bruce Nauman’s 1985 neon creation Seven Figures, the appetiser for his upcoming retrospective and the first to be held in the Netherlands.

Coming of age in 60s America, Nauman first explored his practice in a vacant grocery store turned art studio, creating seminal pieces like Bouncing In the Corner (1968) where a young Nauman is videoed for 60 minutes repeatedly falling back into a corner and then bouncing back up again. What followed was a career that spanned two decades and an array of practices that explore ideas of image and language using simple materials at-hand. In today’s world, Nauman’s 1996 work, Washing Hands Normal – a pair of stacked monitors showing someone scrubbing their hands clean on an endless loop – becomes much more poignant.

Widely considered one the most significant artists of the 20th century, Nauman’s restless exploration of what art is and can be resulted in a body of work that is conceptual, provocative, irreverent and bursting with wit. In collaboration with Tate Modern, this exhibition spans a period of more than 50 years, allowing visitors to experience his sculptures, neon works, films, video works, sound recordings, text and works on paper.

Bruce Nauman at Stedelijk Museum runs from 31st May to 15th August.

Double Slap in the Face, by Bruce Nauman, 1985

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