PRINT February 1972

Bruce Nauman: Another Kind of Reasoning


IN 1968 THE CUTTING EDGE of post-Minimalist sensibility could have been sectioned between Serra, Sonnier, and Nauman. And yet, each of Nauman’s successive appearances presents us with a growing insipidness, the one quality which, whatever else may have been wrong, he certainly was not thought to possess.

When Nauman worked with the verbal problems inherent in Duchamp’s oeuvre he was answering a central problem of contemporary art: where to stand in relation to Duchamp. Duchamp demonstrates, as no other artist does, that the ultimate basis of meaning in art is linguistic and not formal, whatever the formal properties his work may possess. In establishing his connection, Nauman settled on the baldest examination of the pun and arrogated a messianic mysticism—the banners and slogans—to himself as well. (The relationship to Duchamp in Nauman’s early work will be examined in Part II of this

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