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“If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art.”

- Bruce Nauman

Edward Ressle is pleased to present Bruce Nauman’s Flesh to White to Black to Flesh, 1968 at 53 Orchard. 

As one of the most important living artists working today, Nauman’s revolutionary approach to art-making has challenged conventions of creative expression through a variety of mediums and techniques. Process and participation play a central role in Nauman’s oeuvre as he navigates the traditional roles of artist and viewer, simultaneously exploring the intricacies of space, time and light. 

Flesh to White to Black to Flesh, 1968 is an explorative performance piece of the human body where Nauman focuses on the themes of self-discovery and transformation to study light and color as it unfolds on the screen. With nothing but a white wall for the background of the film, the eyes are initially drawn to the artist’s torso, completely engulfed by his environment. He takes the viewer on a journey investigating the reflective properties of white — his body becomes a captive of his surroundings. 

Later cleansing himself in black as if taking on a new identity, the artist completes this voyage by returning to his original flesh, all traces of color gone. Nauman himself explained that, “If you can manipulate clay and end up with art, you can manipulate yourself in it as well. It has to do with using the body as a tool, an object to manipulate." Uniquely presented in black and white, this piece genuinely exposes the viewer to the artist’s methodical investigation of shadow and light, creating a piece both personal and captivating.

In 2018, The Museum of Modern Art will exhibit Bruce Nauman’s work spanning all mediums since 1965, making him the first artist to have two career retrospectives at MoMA. Flesh to White to Black to Flesh, 1968 is on view in Chinatown at 53 Orchard.

Bruce Nauman (b.1941) as been the subject of many notable museum exhibitions such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, Kunsthalle Basel. A major retrospective, co-organized by The Walker Art Center and the Hirshhorn Museum, opened at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, and travelled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Kunsthaus Zurich. Among his honors are an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1989, the Max Beckmann Prize in 1990, the Wolf Prize in Arts—Sculpture in 1993, the Wexner Prize in 1994, and the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale in 2009.

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