Bruce Nauman: Flayed Earth/Flayed Self (Skin/Sink)

NAUMAN, Bruce. Flayed Earth/Flayed Self (Skin/Sink). Los Angeles: Nicholas Wilder Gallery, 1974.

8vo; staple-bound; printed wrappers. Fine.

First edition. Nauman’s accompaniment to a 1974 exhibition is this small artist’s book consisting entirely of text pieces, including the iconic titular piece. All consist of ambiguous statements, bizarre wordplay and puzzling directives. The book came at a moment in Nauman’s career that he has since described as difficult and painful—his 1972 traveling exhibition polarized critics and viewers alike. Though it received some good notices, angry dismissal and excoriation were the more common reactions. Nauman responded by going further with his art and exploring whether it could exist purely as language. His text pieces, unlike Weiner’s, for example, did not aim for concreteness but were intentionally slippery and filled with the possibility of miscommunication. In fact, they were fundamentally about miscommunication. This book is a series of mis-directions, occasions for confusion, and pitfall-riddled thoughts. Nauman’s art is conveyed with only the slightest physical substance. Its design reflects Nauman’s impulse toward the immaterial--it is exceedingly plain, bound in brown paper wrappers and laid out with no visual panache or typographic sensibility--but for all its difficulty, it is one of Nauman’s most rewarding works.
$800 [inquire]