Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies

Punta della Dogana
23/05/2021 - 09/01/2022
Punta della Dogana is open
every day except on Tuesdays
from 10 am to 7 pm


Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana presents a major exhibition dedicated to the US artist Bruce Nauman (1941, Indiana, USA), entitled “Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies,” and curated by Carlos Basualdo, the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Caroline Bourgeois, curator at Pinault Collection.
The show is scheduled to open on 23 May 2021 at Punta della Dogana and will remain open until 9 January 2022.

The exhibition in Venice is focused on a series of recent video installation that Nauman has developed in the last five years and are related to a single channel video from 1968, “Walk with Contrapposto.” The show includes a comprehensive survey of that series along with a number of earlier performances, installations and videos that provide the overall context for the recent work. From the 1960s to today, Bruce Nauman has constantly experimented with different artistic languages – from photography to performance, sculpture and video – to explore and mine their potentialities in a body of work that relentlessly explores the human condition while interrogating the very definition of what constitutes artistic practice.

In classical art, the term Contrapposto refers to a pose in which the standing figure slightly twists off-axis so that the upper and the lower bodies turn in opposite ways, in search of a balance. The adoption of the contrapposto revolutionised sculpture in Ancient Greece and was further developed in painting and sculpture throughout the history of art – from the Renaissance, all the way to Nauman’s contemporary experiments with moving images.

The series “Contrapposto Studies” (that includes “Contrapposto Studies I-VII”, 2015/16; “Contrapposto Studies i-vii”, 2015/16; “Walks In Walks Out”, 2015; “Contrapposto Split,” 2017, and “Walking the Line,” 2019), represents the first time in which Nauman has explicitly revisited an earlier work to use it as the point of departure for his practice. Initially, he aimed to go beyond the limits imposed by the technology available in the late 1960s, the time when he produced the first “Walk with Contrapposto” in which we see the artist walk in a narrow wooden corridor built inside his studio while trying to maintain the classical pose.

The exhibition, conceived as an ascending spiralling itinerary through the spaces of Punta della Dogana, has been designed to immerse the viewers into Nauman’s explorations of performance, sound and space by presenting the works of the Contrapposto series along with earlier works across media.

Bruce Nauman was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2009. His work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions around the world, including in a major retrospective first presented at the Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel and later at the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA/PS1, New York, in 2018-19.

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Bruce Nauman Archive for the Future
A series of conversations entitled “Nauman Archive for the Future” with curators Carlos Basualdo and Caroline Bourgeois together with artists, art historians, dancers, performers and musicians from around the world will lead up to the opening of the exhibition. They will take the show in Venice as the starting point to reflect upon Bruce Nauman’s work and its potential future influence.

Philippe Parreno, Anne Imhof, Boris Charmatz, Paul Maheke, Élisabeth Lebovici, Ralph Lemon, Tatiana Trouvé, Teodor Currentzis, Lenio Kaklea, Elisabetta Benassi and Nairy Baghramian are the guests invited to take part to the debate.



The catalogue is published by Marsilio Editori, Venice, and Palazzo Grassi - Punta della Dogana. Graphic design by Zak Group.

The catalogue includes texts by François Pinault, Bruno Racine, Caroline Bourgeois, Carlos Basualdo, Damon Krukowski, Noé Soulier, Michael R. Taylor, Jean-Pierre Criqui, Erica F. Battle and an interview of Carlos Basualdo with Bruce Nauman.

368 pages
1 edition in 3 languages (Italian, English, French)

Available for sale online and at the bookshops of Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana at reduced price.

Exhibition guide