Bruce Nauman was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on 6 December 1941 as son of an engineer. After a turbulent childhood during which his family often had to move, he began to study math, physics and art as a side subject in Madison, Wisconsin in 1960. He is seen as one of the most important contemporary artists. In 1964 Bruce Nauman received his Bachelor of Arts and changed to the University of California in Davis, where he continued his studies of arts under William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson. At that time he became Wayne Thibaud's assistant and began to work with fibre glass sculptures, performances and films, which mainly show his performances.
In 1966 Bruce Nauman finished his studies with a Master degree and became teacher at the Art Institute in San Francisco. At the same time he expanded his repertoire of artistic expression with photographs, the use of words, casts and the well-known neon tubes.
Two aspects especially influenced Naumann's work: the aesthetic of advertisements and his technical scientific education. He was able to show his works at internationally appreciated exhibitions. In 1968 his works were shown at the same time at Leo Castelli's in New York, at the gallery Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf and at the "documenta IV" in Kassel. During the 1970s Bruce Nauman lived, worked and taught in California. He temporarily abandoned the medium video and developed during the 1980s the hanging sculptures of his South America and South Africa series at his new home in New Mexico as a continuation of his sptial installations.
In 1989 Nauman's work with wax heads began, which were abandoned in favour of hand casts during the 1990s. They resumed the impressing physical boundary experiences, which has already been part of his performances and the videos he developed of these performances. Not only through his regular participation in the "documenta", Nauman became known to the public as a pioneer and precursor of neon-sculptures and video art.
Bruce Nauman received the "Golden Lion" of the Biennale in Venice for his life achievement in 1999.