Bruce Naumanís Work with Light will be on display at the
Milwaukee Art Museum through April 9.
Milwaukee Art Museum chief curator Joseph Ketner II was familiar
with neon artist Bruce Naumanís provocative and contemporary work
even before joining the museum in the spring of last year. The two
worked together while Ketner served as director of Mildred Lane Kemper
Art Museum at Washington University.
"This is one of the most important artists alive today. He is
a very thoughtful and provocative artist," says Ketner, adding
that one writer dubbed him "the Pope of contemporary art,"
and the London Financial Times named Nauman one of the top 10 artists
of all time.
Divided into three sections and split by two fluorescent light
environments, the 16 pieces in Elusive Signs: Bruce Nauman Works with
Light (through April 9) focus solely on light. After April the exhibit
travels to six other venues. One of Naumanís most well-known pieces,
"Neon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten-Inch
Intervals," a uranium neon sign resembling a skeletal figure, is
included in the exhibit, along with a 5 minute flashing presentation
and his earliest works: beer signs inspired by his San Francisco
This is Naumanís first solo exhibit in Wisconsin, although he
graduated from Wauwatosa East High School and UW-Madison, where he
studied mathematics. Not long after graduation, however, he earned an
MFA at the University of California-Davis and found his calling in
Before joining MAM, Ketner was the Henry and Lois Foster Director
of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, specializing in
contemporary art. Although a Milwaukee resident for less than a year,
Ketner has been pleased by the artists heís encountered. "One
of my goals is to find a way to engage them in the programs at the
museum," he says.