06:00 AM

Museum and the Pinault Collection - Paris and Venice, Jointly Acquire Two Major Recent Works by Bruce Nauman

The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pinault Collection - Paris and Venice, have jointly acquired two important works by Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941), one of the most influential artists of his generation. These include the monumental video installation, Contrapposto Studies, I through VII, 2015/2016, consisting of seven large-scale video projections with sound, and Walks In Walks Out, 2015, a closely related work comprising a single-channel video with sound. Walks In Walks Out has recently been installed in Gallery 171 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and will remain on view through August.

Bruce Nauman has been widely acclaimed as a pioneer of performance art, durational practices, and time-based media. Emerging in the 1960s in the midst of Postminimalism and Conceptual Art, Nauman developed a radical approach to art making that has encompassed sculpture, sound, installation, film, and video. His work questions the very nature of what constitutes art and being an artist. It has also probed the possibilities and limitations of the performing body and explored the relationship between language and meaning, subject and object, viewer and participant.

Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated: “We are delighted to join forces with the Pinault Collection to acquire these two major works by Nauman. While the monumental Contrapposto Studies, I through VII demonstrates Nauman’s ability to orchestrate space, movement, and sound, the intimate Walks In Walks Out captures Nauman in the process of creation in his studio. These acquisitions underscore the Museum’s commitment to presenting the most significant art of our time. I am delighted that these works have found a home here and in Europe, as Nauman continues to exert a strong influence on a younger generation of artists throughout the world.”

François Pinault stated: “Thanks to this joint acquisition, a major work by one the greatest artists of our time will be presented to a large international audience in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, this acquisition underlines the importance of Bruce Nauman’s works within Pinault Collection and the quality of the relationships Pinault Collection has built with the most important museums in the world.”

Contrapposto Studies, I through VII, which was recently presented at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is among the largest and most ambitious works created by Nauman over the last two decades. It recalls Nauman’s seminal video work Walk with Contrapposto of 1968, in which the artist animates a pose originating in classical Greek sculpture that introduced dynamism to the representation of the human form. This recent work consists of seven large-scale video projections with sound in which the artist, walking in contrapposto, is rendered in both positive and negative, moving forwards and backwards. His body is at times digitally replicated, fragmented, and stacked in multiple horizontal strata.

Nauman’s single-channel video Walks In Walks Out, 2015, captures the artist in the process of making Contrapposto Studies, I through VII. He is seen walking into and out of the view of a camera as it projects a sequence from Contrapposto Studies, I through VII, onto his studio wall. Walking up to each image of his projected body seen on the wall, Nauman uses his own scale to establish the ideal dimensions of the video for public display. In its economic execution and seeming simplicity, the work conveys the visual relationship—and tension—between the artist and his projected image.

Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, said: ”Bruce Nauman is one of the most profound and provocative artists working today. These two recent works together interrogate the ways in which our perception constructs—or distorts—our relation to reality. They also work on multiple levels, drawing both from art history and from Nauman’s own biography. They reflect Nauman’s unparalleled capacity to convey complex issues in his work with an exceptional economy of means.”

The acquisition of these two works enables the Philadelphia Museum of Art to more fully represent the most significant moments of Nauman’s career. In 2007, the Museum acquired Nauman’s iconic neon sign The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign) that he produced in 1967. The Museum also holds seminal videos and films by Nauman, including: Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square (1967-68), Walk with Contrapposto (1968), and Wall-Floor Positions (1968). Contrapposto Studies, I through VII is the most ambitiously scaled work by Nauman to join the Museum’s collection, and Walks In Walks Out enables the Museum to present the artist’s recent work in multiple contexts.


In Spring 2018, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will publish Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies, a volume celebrating the acquisitions and examining the significance of Contrapposto Studies, I through VII, Walks In Walks Out, and related works. It will include an interview with the artist by Carlos Basualdo; an essay by Erica F. Battle, The John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Associate Curator of Contemporary Art; and an essay by Caroline Bourgeois, Curator of the Pinault Collection. The Museum gratefully acknowledges Sperone Westwater for its support of the publication.


Contrapposto Studies I through VII and Walks In, Walks Out are jointly owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pinault Collection. The funds used by the Philadelphia Museum of Art include the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, John Alchin and Hal Marryatt, Keith L. and Katherine Sachs, and Constance and Sankey Williams, with additional generous support from Mari and Peter Shaw, Dennis Alter, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, Mr. and Mrs. Berton E. Korman, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, and other donors.

About Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman was born in 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He studied at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of California, Davis. Nauman’s first solo debut in New York was at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1968, and his first major museum survey was co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972. In 1994, Nauman’s traveling retrospective and catalogue raisonné were organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in association with the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Bruce Nauman: Topological Gardens, organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was the official U.S. entry in 2009 to the 53rd Venice Biennale and garnered the Golden Lion for Best National Participation; Nauman’s two new sound works produced in concert with that project, Days and Giorni, had their United States premiere at the Museum in 2009. Contrapposto Studies, I through VII, was recently presented at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The artist lives in New Mexico with his wife, the artist Susan Rothenberg. Since 1975, Bruce Nauman has been represented by Sperone Westwater gallery.

About Pinault Collection

Founder of Kering Group, which manages Gucci, Saint-Laurent, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, and others, François Pinault is one the world’s leading collectors of contemporary art. Through Pinault Collection, he operates two museums in Venice, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, inaugurated in 2006 and 2009 respectively. In 2018 Pinault will open a new venue in the Bourse de Commerce in Paris, a historical building which will be restored and transformed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Pinault Collection also regularly presents exhibitions in partnership with museums around the world, the latest of which took place at the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany, in 2016-2017.

Pinault Collection extensively supports initiatives in favour of contemporary artists and promotes studies and research dedicated to modern and contemporary art history.


Social Media @philamuseum


We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.