Born in 1941 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, he initially studied mathematics and art at Wisconsin and California Universities and then concentrated on conceptual art and minimal art as a sculptor, performance artist, video-artist and choreographer.
The innovative impulses of his work flow together in a complex context of formulations that are interdependent and supplement each other.
This complexity in the development of his work - with unexpected and continuous changes in direction and shifts in emphasis - barely allow a linear description of the dependencies and references involved.
The basis of Nauman's artistic approach and the resulting actions is his own existence as an artist involved in an incessant process of self-experience. Nauman seeks the challenge in situations which lead himself and the viewer beyond the limits of one's own horizon of experiences; "one is thus forced to become increasingly aware of oneself and the situation. Often, even without knowing what it actually is with which one is confronted and/or that one experiences. All one knows is that one is pushed into a completely unfamiliar place and that this triggers fear".