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Self Portrait as a Fountain


Bruce Nauman, Self Portrait as a Fountain, 1966–67, from Eleven Color Photographs, 1970. Chromogenic print, 20 1/16 × 23 15/16 in. (50.96 × 60.8 cm). Edition no. 7/8. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase  70.50.9
© 2009 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Since the mid-1960s, Bruce Nauman has questioned traditional ways of making art, rethinking what an artist might do and what art can be. The way he approaches art differs from artists who go to their studios to make paintings or sculptures. Instead, Nauman thinks of art as a type of research or investigation. He is interested in the ways that ideas and activities can be transformed into works of art. Nauman has often used his own body in his work and he has recorded his activities in his studio with photography and video. Self Portrait as a Fountain is part of a series of eleven photographs about language, puns, and humor.

“What is it that an artist does when he is left alone in his studio? My conclusion was that if I was an artist and I was in the studio, then everything I was doing in the studio should be art….From that point on, art became more of an activity and less of a product.”

—Bruce Nauman

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Work height: 1'8"
Kid height: 4'0"
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