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Bill Viola

visual artist

About this Artist

Bill Viola is considered a pioneer of video and media art. For over forty years he has created architectural video installations, video films, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast as well as music concerts, opera, and sacred spaces. His works are shown in museums and galleries worldwide and are found in many distinguished collections. His single channel videotapes have been widely distributed and his writings have been extensively published. 

Viola’s video pieces masterfully utilize sophisticated media technologies while exploring the spiritual and perceptual side of human experience, focusing on universal human themes–birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness–and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as the spiritual traditions of Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism and Christian mysticism.

Music has always been an important part of Viola’s life and work. From 1973-1980 he performed with avant-garde composer David Tudor. Viola’s experience with music composition and performance profoundly informed his visual work. He has also created video for several music projects: Déserts (1994) with the composition by the same title by Edgard Varèse (Ensemble Modern, Frankfurt); and a suite of three new video pieces for the rock group Nine Inch Nails’ “Fragility” world tour, 2000.

Bill Viola represented the US in the 1995 Venice Biennale, and in 1997 the Whitney Museum of American Art organized “Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey”. Other exhibitions include: “Bill Viola: The Passions,” 2003, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; “Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume (First Dream),” 2006, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; the Grand Palais, Paris, 2014; “Bill Viola: Retrospective,” 2017, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; “Bill Viola/Michelangelo,” 2019, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London; and “Bill Viola: The Journey of the Soul,” 2021, at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia.