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Closed today, next open tomorrow. Closed today, next open tomorrow.

Second Poem Piece

A work made of steel.
© 2018 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • A work made of steel.




Bruce Nauman
American, born 1941

About this artwork

Bruce Nauman’s engagement with linguistic gamesmanship— wordplay, puns, and jokes—can be traced to
two exceptional steel sculptures inscribed with text produced in the late 1960s. In one of these, Second Poem Piece, Nauman positioned the words YOU, MAY, NOT, WANT, TO, SCREW, and HERE (or HEAR) strategically across the sculpture’s flat surface, each word establishing its own vertical column. As the text is read horizontally, row by row, the progressive removal of one or more words from the topmost sentence produces an insistently non-narrative list of variations—even a kind of “poem.” The artist has said of this work, “What I was interested in was that art generally adds information to a situation, and it seems reasonable to also be able to remove information from a situation and get art from that.” Here, the permanence of inscribed steel is at odds with the shifting meanings of the sculpture’s series of statements.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Bruce Nauman


Second Poem Piece


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.





Artist's proof, from an edition of 3


152.4 × 152.4 cm (60 × 60 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Lannan Foundation

Reference Number



© 2018 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Extended information about this artwork

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