BEING A NUISANCE

HIS WORK IS DELIBERATELY OFF-PUTTING, BUT BRUCE NAUMAN HAS BECOME THE MOST INFLUENTIAL AMERICAN ARTIST OF HIS GENERATION

SHOULD ART BE SEEN AND NOT heard? An old-fashioned notion--the catalog to the Bruce Nauman retrospective, currently at New York City's Museum of Modern Art, has a human ear on its cover. And indeed, no show was ever noisier. Go in, and you hit a wall of sound, all disagreeable: moanings and groanings; the prolonged squeak of something being dragged over a hard surface, like a knife on a plate; repetitious rock drumming; voices reciting mantra-like inanities; and (in its own room full of TV monitors titled Clown Torture) the hoarse voice of Nauman, dressed as a clown, in a baggy...

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