Middelheim Museum acquires a Bruce Nauman masterpiece

The work Diamond Shaped Room with Yellow Light will be presented to the public as a key work in the exhibition Experience Traps, which will be opening on 1 June as part of the cultural city festival Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens Inspires.

Diamond Shaped Room with Yellow Light, 1986-1990/2018

there and the work was no longer exhibited. The artist is reinstalling the work for the Middelheim collection, this time for good.  

"The bright yellow light can dazzle you just as you enter. Colour and form are confusing. You don't want to stay in this room for very long." (Bruce Nauman)

Nauman describes the space as inhospitable. But he places the work in such a striking location so that you are spurred to enter the work. A conflicting situation awaits you: the effort you must make to enter the work is 'rewarded' with a disorienting experience. The work seems like a trap, an Experience Trap


American artist, pioneer and forerunner

Bruce Nauman (°1941, US) has been pioneering in the field of electronic media, installations, video art, sculpture and neon works since the 1960s. Being human is central to Nauman's work, which he examines in a rigorous and systematic way. He does this with special attention to the relationship of the human body with its environment, as well as organisation and control of (social) behaviour.


Nauman and the Middelheim collection: experimental

Nauman's work is represented in all important contemporary art museums, but his outdoor work is, especially for European public collections, extremely rare. The work represents the roots of other important works in the museum collection (Pedro Cabrita Reis, Per Kirkeby, Atelier van Lieshout, Andrea Zittel etc.): the ‘intermediate step’ between sculpture and architecture, and works in which more interaction with the public is sought. Nauman's work seeks to engage the viewer, without presenting a situation free of any obligations.


Nauman’s work today

Even today, Nauman remains one of the most influential American artists. His provocative approach is an eye-opener even today. Nauman's wry humour and fascination with obsessive behaviour and frustration capture our zeitgeist of social media excesses, experience economy, positioning and framing excellently. Nauman is not interested in offering comfort, but the contrary.

His work has been awarded numerous prizes and tributes, including an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1989, the Max Beckmann Prize in 1990, the Wolf Prize in Arts-Sculpture in 1993, the Wexner Prize in 1994, and the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale in 2009.

In 2018, MOMA NY and the Schaulager in Basel are organising solo exhibitions with his work. In 2020, the Tate Modern will also have a large overview exhibition.


The cooperation

The rare opportunity of giving the work a permanent place in the museum collection was a consequence of the offer by the City of Antwerp, the Middelheim Promotors vzw and three project partners (Ackermans & van Haaren NV, Mathieu Gijbels NV, which took responsibility for building the work, and L.I.F.E. NV) to join forces.  

The purchase of Bruce Nauman’s Diamond Shaped Room with Yellow Light eventually became a partnership between the following partners:

City of Antwerp

Project sponsors


Structural sponsors

Ackermans & van Haaren, Argo Law, Art Secure by Vanbreda Risk & Benefits, BASF, BNP Paribas Fortis, CMB, Cordeel, Delen Private Bank, Deloitte, Deme, EY, Grant Thornton, Hubo, Hugo Ceusters, inno.com, KBC, Laurius, Leasinvest Real Estate, Pamica, SipWell, Soudal & the Antwerp Port Authority.