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  • Provenance

    Estate of Eugenia and James Butler, California
    Bonhams & Butterfields, Los Angeles, Modern and Contemporary Art/Made in California, May 22, 2007, lot 221
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Literature

    C. van Bruggen, ed., Bruce Nauman: Drawings, Zeichnungen 1965-1986, Basel: Museum fur Gegenwartkunst, 1986, #18
    C. van Bruggen, Bruce Nauman, New York: Rizzoli, 1991, p. 165 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Few contemporary artists have made such a diverse mark upon the art world as Bruce Nauman. The present lot, The Negative Shape of the Right Half of my Body Carved into a Living Tree, 1966-67, highlights many of Nauman’s personal fascinations, which are as extensive as they are dissonant. Originally a mathematician, we can find evidence of Nauman’s perfectionism in his superb drafsmanship, on full display in The Negative Shape. Almost resembling a schematic for its real-world execution,
    the painting is at once unrelentingly charming and comically curious; Nauman’s corporeal mark has been imprinted upon a live tree, the bright red of the tree’s vital interior contrasting with its stylized green exterior. We must wonder whether Nauman is a modern day Leonardo da Vinci, two-dimensionally creating his whimsical real-world fancies.



    Aside from it’s marvelous aesthetic composition, the present lot’sprecocious thematic elements—including the body and the angst ofconfinement—categorize it as a precious rarity within Nauman’s owncanon; indeed, few drawings exhibiting Nauman’s artistic maturity existfrom the mid-1960s, and most occupy space in museums around theworld. Nauman’s fascination with only one side of his body begins here,and is evidenced in much of his later, including Neon Templates of theLeft Half of My Body at Ten Inch Intervals, 1966. His knack for precisionis equaled only by the thematic implications of portraying only a singleside of oneself in art—and it is unquestionable that Nauman has manysides of himself to show. Whether it be the industrial magic of NeonTemplates or the gorgeous simplicity and capriciousness of the presentlot, Nauman’s single side is far less than half of his entirety as an artist.

168

The Negative Shape of the Right Half of my Body Carved into a Living Tree

1966-67
ink, watercolor on paper
18 3/4 x 23 3/4 in. (47.6 x 60.3 cm.)
Titled "The negative shape of the right half of my body carved into a living tree" at center.

Estimate
$100,000 - 150,000 

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Day Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 12 November 2013 11AM