© Bruce Nauman. ARS/Copyright Agency
Bruce Nauman started using photography around 1966, in part following his experience that year of the work of the American-born Surrealist photographer Man Ray at the LA County Museum of Art. Eleven color photographs 1966–67, released by New York gallerist Leo Castelli in 1970, brought wide critical and public attention and represented a radical rearticulation of photography as an ‘artistic’ medium and a source of meaning. It is one of the first instances of an artist engaging with the opportunities offered by colour photography, which until the early 1970s remained the province of commercial and snapshot photography.
Taking the appearance of documentary photographs, the works depict either an action or an ephemeral ‘sculpture’ created by Nauman in his studio, each involving a pun or word game. Nauman has said of the photographs:
I suppose I might have made them as paintings if I had been able to make paintings at the time … Perhaps if I had been a good enough painter I could have made realistic paintings. I don’t know, it just seemed easier to make the works as photographs.
It seems that, in this instance, Nauman’s interest in colour photography was in its capacity to ‘realistically’ (and readily) convey the subject. All the same, the works have come to assume great significance in the history of photography. Indeed, the series was a harbinger of sorts for much of the great American and European photography of the 1970s, when for the first time artists began to use colour processes in a critical and sustained way.
 Raphaël Pirenne, ‘Eleven color photographs: Nauman, Man Ray and Wittgenstein: the scepticism of the medium’, in Raphaël Pirenne and Alexander Streitberger (eds), Heterogeneous objects: Intermedia and photography after Modernism, Leuven University Press, Leuven, 2013, p 39.
 The photographs had been exhibited individually and as a group, under the title Untitled (Set of eleven color photographs); Pirenne and Streitberger, pp 33–57. The pictures were actually taken by the San Francisco based photographer Jack Fulton; Laurence Sillars, ‘Bruce Nauman: keeping busy’, in Laurence Sillars (ed), Bruce Nauman: make me think me, Tate, Liverpool, 2006, p 21.
 Bruce Nauman, interview with Willoughby Sharp (1970), reprinted in Robert C Morgan (ed), Bruce Nauman, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2002, p 241.