top of page

Bruce Nauman

Artist 278

Bruce Nauman

One Hundred Live and Die

Neon Art

Bruce Nauman (born 1941) is an American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media with today’s focus on his neon sculptural work ‘One Hundred Live and Die’.

I choose this piece cause I love it and from research it is what many consider to be one of Nauman’s masterpieceS.

Sad and hopeful, ‘One Hundred ...’ flickers through each possible flippant, mundane, and tragic way to live or die in a blaze of neon exuberance.

Each phrase lights the space with its different neon light. It paints the room and provides a surprisingly profound commentary on life, telling a story with each phrase, reiterating just how messed up life can be.

In the end, the work resonates with all one hundred phrases lit, In a blindingly beautiful and overwhelming display. In Nauman’s work he plays with neon and text, the physical space, and with human emotion.

He brings to neon his deadpan humor and love of word games, imbued with his own special sense of sadism and a desire to provoke discomfort.

There is something darkly funny about Nauman’s work — the neon signs that look inviting but reflect his dark humor and reflect an abyssal dread. As he has moved further and further away from the trappings of the art world and its society, Nauman’s has work shifted.

He has gone into darker psychological and physical themes incorporating images of animal and human body parts, depicting darker allusions to games and torture together with themes of surveillance.

When confronted with "What to do?" in his studio soon after graduating, Nauman had the simple but profound realization that “If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.”

Sources Consulted


bottom of page