Driven Man, Driven Snow
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
This work by the American artist Bruce Nauman consists of a floor sculpture and a drawing. The floor sculpture comprises 26 cast iron elements placed together in groups of three or four. There are two sorts of elements, one with a square top surface, two vertical sides and two sides that run down diagonally, while the other sort has a diamond-shaped surface and four diagonal sides running down. The sides of the elements opposite each other always run parallel. The exhibition space must be rectangular and at least six by ten metres in area. There are always three groups of three of the same elements along the short sides, lying in the same direction but arranged differently in each group. In the middle of the long sides there is a group of four elements, consisting of two of each sort.
Bruce Nauman is a versatile artist. Up to 1970 he gave performances mainly using his own body as the starting point. From 1965 he made sculptures using very diverse materials including neon, aluminium and wax. In addition, he also made drawings, photographs, videos, graphic work, holograms and books. He saw his work as an examination of what art could be. The confrontation between the viewer and what there is to see has central place. Nauman’s work is playful but often has a disquieting undertone, appealing to feelings of confusion and a sense of anguish.
'Driven Man, Driven Snow' is a work that can be related to Minimal Art. It consists of identical elements based on a geometric form which can be manufactured industrially and which can be arranged in an exhibition space in a particular way. However, in contrast with minimal artists such as Judd, Andre or LeWitt, Nauman used not one, but two basic elements and combined these not in one way, but in several different ways. Furthermore, he chose elements with a confusing shape. They seem to be perspective distortions of square tile shapes. By arranging them in different directions and formations, Nauman intensified a sense of disorientation in the viewer.
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