Bruce Nauman - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Monday, November 11, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Ghent
    Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf

  • Catalogue Essay

    Few artists can bring about such discordant emotions as curiosity, joy, and indignation in a single work, yet these are only a sampling of what Bruce Nauman manages to conjure with Untitled, 1987. Nauman’s simple drawing, of two disembodied hands stretching across a vertical horizon for connection, simultaneously evokes The Creation of Adam and heavy metal music of the 1980s. The top arm, seen dorsally as it stretches down with heavier and fuller lines than the arm below, is scant in detail but rich in symbolism: its hand stretches out in the one handed acronym for “I love you” in American Sign Language. Only the index finger and pinkie make contact with the limb rising from beneath. More subtly drawn, with only a ventral view of the forearm and hand, its hand assumes the “sign of the horns” a gesture commonly associated with the satanic occult and appropriated by the band Black Sabbath in 1979. Coming on the heels of the disco era, hard rock was a response to the lightness of the “peace and love” era and supposed superfciality of the former musical genre.

    Underlying the levity of the heavy metal connotation, there is a fascinating marriage of symbols by Nauman. Love from above and horns from below make for competing forces in the Christian eschatological world, each battling each other for the dominion of the earth. Even without its breathtaking diversity, Bruce Nauman’s work would be remarkable simply for its combination of lightness and heaviness, on full display in the present lot. Untitled, 1987 invites us to witness a battle both played out in both Revelation and in the everpresent battle between artistic forms.




pencil and graphite on paper
29 3/4 x 22 in. (75.7 x 56 cm.)
Signed and dated "B Nauman 87" lower right.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $68,750

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

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 12 November 2013 11AM