Bruce Nauman / Artist

Above Image – one of Nauman’s text works in neon. Image is my own, taken at Venice Biennale 2015


American Sculptor, born 1941; Bruce Nauman‘s work with neon signage has been a great influence to my current practice.

Nauman first appointed the use of Neon in the 1960’s, it’s often said they were a response to pop art, which you can see through the vivid colours. He used Neon as an appropriate material to illustrate his play with words.

EAT DEATH, Image is my own taken at Venice Biennale 2015.

Bruce Nauman’s play with word often result in puns and jokes; he finds words within words and once seen it changes the meaning of the original word. He shows this through changing the visual of the neon, either making it brighter so it stands out within a word, shown above – EAT is glowing noticeably brighter in DEATH.

Nauman also uses colour to realise other words, as well as making two of the same sign, but they have slight differences. Run from Fear/Fun from Rear, presents both of these.

Run from Fear/Fun from Rear, 1972. Image Source.

The aspect that inspires me about Nauman is his play with words; he changes the context of words and statements, he places words and phrases together that aren’t necessary seen in the same context, and from this changes the meaning of how we perceive the words; EAT DEATH is just one example.

I also like how Bruce Nauman utilises the material of neon. He uses it for it’s purpose; to present information, The Guggenheim Online explain it as ‘If anything links such diverse endeavours, it is Nauman’s insistence that aesthetic experience supersedes the actual object in importance’. This shows how Nauman simply wants to present his information and show the importance of the word, rather the work being the material use of neon – he has simply used this as a platform. This is something I can relate to with what I want to achieve in my text art at present.


Bruce Nauman –

Guggenheim Online –


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