The first major exhibition of work by Bruce Nauman in over a decade, and the first ever to focus upon his formative years in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960s.
Berkeley, CA, November 29, 2006 - The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is proud to present A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s, a major exhibition of early work by Bruce Nauman, one of the most influential artists working today. The exhibition is the first ever to focus on the years Nauman lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and features the full range of his work from the 1960s, when he laid the foundation for all of his subsequent, ground-breaking work in sculpture, performance, and film and video art.
Curated by Constance Lewallen, BAM/PFA senior curator, the exhibition will provide new research and insight into a vital early stage of Nauman's career. Featured in the exhibition will be more than 100 works - several of which have never been exhibited before - including drawings, sculpture, neon reliefs, photographs, films, videos, sound and text works, installations, artist books, and ephemera. A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s will be on view at BAM/PFA from Wednesday, January 17 through Sunday, April 15, 2007, before touring Europe and the United States.
"We are pleased and honored to be presenting this important and unprecedented exploration of a truly original artist and thinker," says Kevin E. Consey, BAM/PFA director. "The museum's history of focusing on Bay Area and Conceptual art makes us well positioned to develop such a major re-examination of Nauman's early career."
Nauman is widely regarded as being among the most important living American artists. Over the past four decades, his work has remained constant in its explorations and, at the same time, varied in its scope. Nauman's work employs forms that range from Post-Minimalism and Conceptual art to film and video and installation art, through which a series of themes and ideas consistently appear: the use of the body as a material; the integration of art and language; the relationship of art and architecture; and such dichotomies as concealment and revelation, interior and exterior, and positive and negative space, among others.
Calling Nauman's work "more pertinent than ever," the New York Times recently stated: "A pioneer in Post-Minimalist video and performance art, and a sculptor of seemingly limitless versatility, Mr. Nauman has been famous and critically admired since he arrived on the scene…and his work has exerted an important influence on contemporary art ever since."
Nauman spent his formative years in Northern California - first as a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, from 1964 to 1966, and then in San Francisco as a working artist and part-time instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute - before departing for Southern California in late 1969. Nauman began his artistic career as a painter, but soon branched out into more conceptual forms, bypassing the dominant formalism of Pop Art and Minimalism.
During this early period Nauman began making sculpture in clay, fiberglass and polyester resin, and other non-traditional materials. He created casts of negative space and parts of his own body, incorporated neon tubes into sculptures, and made his now-familiar neon reliefs. In 1966, he created his first sculpture using words (a lead plaque inscribed A Rose Has No Teeth), forecasting his career-long fascination with word play and the relationship between art and language.
At this stage Nauman created virtually all of his landmark early films and videos; he was among the first artists ever to include video works in a gallery exhibition. Nauman also made his first photographs, experimented with sound works and holography, using his own body as a subject, and - toward the end of the decade - developed his first interactive video corridors.
In each of these areas, he demonstrated an intelligence and originality that made curators and dealers take notice. By 1970, Nauman was represented by galleries in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Düsseldorf. He was included in all of the seminal anti-form and Conceptual exhibitions, such as Eccentric Abstraction (1966), When Attitudes Become Form (1969), Prospect 68 (1968), and 9 at Castelli (1969). In 1972, a survey of his work was presented at the Los Angeles County and Whitney Museums, an unusual tribute to such a young artist.
A Rose Has No Teeth provides an unprecedented investigation of Nauman's career, influences, and contributions to contemporary art, adding to scholarship on both the artist and a particularly fruitful and influential period in American art history. While preparing the exhibition, Lewallen interviewed more than forty of Nauman's associates from his early period. Her research also uncovered new works by Nauman, including a group of twenty-five drawings, a fiberglass sculpture kept for years by a classmate and forgotten by the artist himself, and a series of four films. Conversations between Lewallen and photographer Jack Fulton, who collaborated with Nauman in the 1960s, helped uncover a cache of photo outtakes (stored for years in Fulton's basement) from the 1970 screen print series Studies for Holograms. Fulton also found several shots he took of Nauman in his San Francisco studio, which will be featured in the catalogue.
Lewallen has devoted much of her career to developing exhibitions of the Conceptual, multimedia, video, and performance art that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century, and, as MATRIX curator and then senior curator at BAM/PFA, she has often focused on Bay Area artists. Her recent exhibition projects include The Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951 – 1982) (2001), Everything Matters: Paul Kos (2003), and Ant Farm 1968 – 1978 (2004).
Film Series at the Pacific Film Archive
Bruce Nauman was not alone in his exploration of video as an artistic medium. In conjunction with the exhibition A Rose Has No Teeth, the Pacific Film Archive will present Then, Not Nauman: Conceptualists of the Early Seventies, a series showcasing video works by early-1970s Conceptual artists who, along with Nauman, began to explore the range of issues related to the new medium, such as using the body as palette, the manipulation of space, and the experience of viewing. All screenings are at the PFA Theater.
Wednesday, January 31, 7:30 p.m.
Works by Vito Acconci, Terry Fox, Joan Jonas, William Wegman
Wednesday, February 28, 7:30 p.m.
Works by Vito Acconci, Paul McCarthy, Susan Mogul, Rita Myers, Charlemagne Palestine
Wednesday, March 7, 7:30 p.m.
I Am Making
Works by John Baldessari, Vito Acconci, Martha Rosler, Joel Glassman
Wednesday, April 4, 7:30 pm
The Medium Is
Works by Lynda Benglis, Dan Graham, Hermine Freed, Richard Serra
Published by University of California Press, A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s, the 256-page, illustrated catalogue, will contribute significantly to existing scholarship on the artist and on Bay Area art movements of the 1960s. An examination of this period of Bruce Nauman's career, the book will include essays by Anne Wagner, noted art historian and UC Berkeley art history professor; Robert Storr, an artist, critic, and former curator at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; curator and writer Robert Riley; and exhibition curator Constance Lewallen, for whom Bay Area art of the 1960s has long been a curatorial focus.
Wagner's essay discusses Nauman's movement away from traditional materials and toward an examination of the motives and actions of the artist. Storr writes about Nauman's drawings, and the relationship between the pen and the mind. Riley discusses the artist's films and videos. Finally, Lewallen expands on the exhibition premise by examining the development of Nauman's work. The catalogue will also include a detailed, newly researched timeline and exhibition history, reflecting the most accurate dates and events in the artist's career, based on research conducted since the publication of the artist's catalogue raisonne in 1994. Images will include works in the exhibition; works by other, related artists; and vintage photographs from the private collections of Nauman's friends and colleagues.
Contact the Museum Store at (510) 642-1475 or visit the store online at bampfa.berkeley.edu/resources/museumstore_books/.
The exhibition will be accompanied by public programs that will contribute to the accessibility, understanding, and appreciation of Conceptual art, as well as performance art, video, and other art forms. Programs will include a gallery talk with Constance Lewallen, BAM/PFA senior curator and curator of A Rose Has No Teeth (January 18); a lecture on Nauman's unique approach to sculpture and the body by Anne Wagner, UC Berkeley art history professor and contributor to the exhibition catalogue (February 1); and specially designed gallery tours led by UC Berkeley graduate students (various dates). Two symposia will be held in conjunction with the exhibition: The first (February 2) will offer new research on Nauman by graduate students and young scholars. The second (March 10) will bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to explore the influences on Nauman during his years in Northern California.
New iPod Audio Guide
Visitors to A Rose Has No Teeth will be the first to experience the museum's new iPod audio guides. The audio files will be available for download to an iPod or home computer on January 17, the day the exhibition opens, by visiting bampfa.berkeley.edu.
The tour includes three venues: BAM/PFA, January 17 – April 15, 2007; the Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea in Turin, Italy, May 23 – September 9, 2007; and The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, October 12, 2007 – January 13, 2008.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Packard Humanities Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Columbia Foundation, the Christensen Fund, the William H. Donner Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Gap Inc., other private foundations and corporations, and our individual donors and members. Major endowment support has been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and by George Gund III.
Gap Inc. is proud to support First Impressions: Free First Thursdays at BAM/PFA. For more information about Free First Thursday gallery tours and screenings visit our website at bampfa.berkeley.edu.
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Located at 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.
Gallery and Museum Store Hours:
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General admission is $8; admission for seniors, disabled persons, non-UC Berkeley students, and young adults (13 – 17) is $5; admission for BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty, and children under 12 is free; admission for group tours is $3 per person (to arrange a group tour, call  642-5188). Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.
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