Bruce Nauman
Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists, 1966

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists
Artist name
Bruce Nauman
Date created
fiberglass and polyester resin
15 5/8 in. × 85 1/4 in. × 2 3/4 in. (39.69 cm × 216.54 cm × 6.99 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
The Agnes E. Meyer and Elise S. Haas Fund and Accessions Committee Fund: gift of Collectors' Forum, Doris and Donald Fisher, Evelyn Haas, Mimi and Peter Haas, Pamela and Richard Kramlich, Elaine McKeon, Byron R. Meyer, Nancy and Steven Oliver, Helen and Charles Schwab, Norah and Norman Stone, Danielle and Brooks Walker, Jr., and Pat and Bill Wilson
© Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Audio Stories

Why is this title a lie?

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Shortly after moving to San Francisco, American artist Bruce Nauman created Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists. At the time, he was just beginning to experiment with using his body for making art. Art historian Pamela Lee.  



There is a real sense of play or parody going on in this piece. What Nauman is trying to do is give a mark, give a kind of identification, or a signature, to the artists body itself. But instead of, say a hand print, the kinds of which you see in Hollywood, with movie stars, he has in fact used the form of the artists knee as the signature or identification mark of the artist.


NARRATOR: Though the title is Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists, the work is in fact, neither wax nor the knees of five famous artists.  



What we have, actually, is a piece constructed out of fiberglass and not wax. The knees that we see here, or at least the imprints of them, actually belong to Nauman himself.  

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