Bruce Nauman's work on view in Atwerp

Middelheim Museum Antwerp acquires a Bruce Nauman masterpiece


June 1, 2018

Thanks to an especially good cooperation between the City of Antwerp and private partners, the Middelheim Museum is being presented with the rare opportunity of expanding its collection with an important work of art. This concerns the Diamond Shaped Room with Yellow Light by the American artist Bruce Nauman. The work will be presented to the public as a key work in the exhibition Experience Traps, which will be opening on 1 June as part of the cultural city festival Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens Inspires.

"Bruce Nauman is an artist who is well-known as one of the godfathers of western contemporary art. It is almost impossible to overestimate his influence on artists of the following generations worldwide. Thanks to the sustained patience, the intensive collaboration with private partners and the resolve of all concerned, we are extremely proud that today we can say that this work – a unique creation from a contemporary classic – forms a part of the collection. This way, the collection continues to be relevant for the visitor of today and for the coming generations." (Caroline Bastiaens, Alderwoman for Culture) 
Diamond Shaped Room with Yellow Light, 1986-1990/2018
The work was created in the 1980s for an exhibition in the public space. In 1990, it disappeared from there and the work was no longer exhibited. The artist is reinstalling the work for the Middelheim collection, this time for good.
"The bright yellow light can dazzle you just as you enter. Colour and form are confusing. You don't want to stay in this room for very long." (Bruce Nauman)
Nauman and the Middelheim collection: experimental
Nauman's work is represented in all important contemporary art museums, but his outdoor work is, especially for European public collections, extremely rare.
The relationship of the human body to its environment and the control of (social) behavior are themes that are addressed in many of his works, and Diamond Shaped Room with Yellow Light is directly related to other important works from the oeuvre (corridor pieces etc.). But rarely can the viewer enter the work itself, and he/she is so intensely and experimentally immersed in the intentions and fascinations of the artist, as is the case here.
The acquisition enables the museum to position itself more sharply: other museums purchased small sculptures, video art and works on paper, but no large-scale outdoor sculptures. This represents the Middelheim Museum's complementarity with respect to the large European collections.
The work represents the roots of other important works in the museum collection (Pedro Cabrita Reis, Per Kirkeby, Atelier van Lieshout, Andrea Zittel etc.): the ‘intermediate step’ between sculpture and architecture, and works in which more interaction with the public is sought. It is the precursor of today's ubiquitous participatory artistic practices. Nauman's work seeks to engage the viewer, without presenting a situation free of any obligations.
Bruce Nauman, 'Diamond Shaped Room with Yellow Light', 1986-1990/2018 - Photo: Tom Cornille