Bill Viola (American, born January 25, 1951) is a video and installation artist. Viola earned a BFA degree in Experimental Studios in 1973 from Syracuse University, where he studied both visual art and electronic music. He holds multiple honorary doctorates, including those from Syracuse University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, California Institute of the Arts, and Royal College of Art, London. His artistic contributions are considered essential to the recognition of video as a valid medium in Contemporary Art. Throughout his career—which spans four decades—Viola has used state-of-the-art technology to create video installations, electronic music, soundscapes, and television broadcasts. His work has been displayed in a variety of venues around the world, and Viola has traveled extensively, living and working in many locations, such as Italy, Japan, and Australia. Viola’s work often explores the themes of spirituality and introspection, inviting audiences to better understand themselves through their perception of sensory experience. Transcendental human experiences, such as death, birth, and understanding of consciousness, are key themes in Viola’s art. Some of his best-known works include The Crossing (video and sound installation, 1996), The Reflecting Pool (videotape, 1977–1979), and The Passing (videotape, 1991).

For the Venice Biennale in 1995, Viola created The Greeting, a video based on a 16th century painting by the Italian artist Pontormo (Jacopo Carucci) (Italian, 1494–1557). In addition to his video and installation work, Viola has contributed to a variety of media. He served as the artist-in-residence at both the WNET Channel 13 Television Laboratory and the Sony Corporation’s Atsugi research laboratories, and from 1973 until 1980, he performed with the composer David Tudor as part of the Rainforest ensemble (later called Composers Inside Electronics). Viola has created various video accompaniments for musical pieces, for composers and musicians such as Edgard Varèse and the popular rock band Nine Inch Nails. He has since been awarded numerous honors, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1989, and in 2006 was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government. Notable exhibitions include Installations and Videotapes (1987) at the Museum of Modern Art and A 25-Year Survey (1997) at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and Hatsu-Yume (First Dream) (2006–2007) at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. Viola currently lives and works in Long Beach, CA.

Timeline

1951
Born in New York, USA
1984
Polaroid Video Art Award for outstanding achievement, USA
1987
Maya Deren Award, American Film Institute, USA
1993
Skowhegan Medal (Video Installation), USA
2003
Cultural Leadership Award, American Federal of Arts, USA
2006
NORD/LB Art Prize, Bremen, Germany
Lives and works with Kira Perov, wife and collaborator, in Long Beach, CA, USA
BFA, Experimental Studios, College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse University, Syracuse, USA

Exhibitions

2009
Mythologies, Haunch of Venison London, UK.
2009
Silent Mountain (2001), Four Hands (2001), Catherine's Room (2001), Ascension (2000), will be shown in the exhibition Being Time, The Pier Art Centre, Stromness, Orkney, UK (solo)
2008
Ocean Without a Shore (2007), The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea (solo)
2008
Tristan et Isolde, Opera National de Paris, France (solo)
2008
Migration (1976), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY USA
2007
52nd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
2006
Los Angeles 1955 – 1985, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
2006
Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
2005
A Kind of Magic, Lucerne Museum of Art, Switzerland
2005
The Passions, J. Paul Getty Museum exhibition travels to Fundación la Caixa, Madrid, Spain and National Gallery of Art, Canberra, Australia (solo)
2005
Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA, USA
2004
L'Ombre du temps, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France
2004
Transcultures, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece
2003
"Bill Viola: The Passions", The J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
2002
"Like Painting", Royal Hibernian Academy, Gallagher Gallery, Dublin
2002
"Bill Viola: Going Forth By Day", Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York
2002
"Bill Viola: Going Forth By Day", Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin
2002
Synopsis II: Theologies at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece
2002
Video Acts: Single Channel Works from the Collections of Pamela and Richard Kramlich and New Art Trust, PS1, MoMA, Long Island, New York, USA
2001
Artcité: When Montreal Turns into a Museum, Musée d‟Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada
2001
Hieronymous Bosch, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherland Plateau of Humankind, Forty-Ninth Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
2001
"Bill Viola: The Quintet of Rememberance", Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2001
"Bill Viola: Five Angels for the Millennium and other new works", Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
2000
"Bill Viola: Stations", Museum fur Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe, Germany
2000
"Bill Viola: New Work", James Cohan Gallery, New York
1997
"Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey" (organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art), Travels to Chapelle Saint-Louise de la Salpetriere, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1998); Stedelijk Museum
1997
"Bill Viola: Fire, Water, Breath", Guggenheim Museum (SoHo), New York
1996
"Bill Viola: The Messenger"(organized by the Chaplaincy to the Arts and Recreation, Northeast England), Durham Cathedral, Visual Arts Festival UK 1996, Durham, England. Traveled from 1997-1998
1996
"Bill Viola: New Work", Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
1996
3e Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon, Musée d‟Art Contemporain, Lyon, France
1995
"Buried Secrets"(organized by Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe), United States Pavilion, 46th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy. Travels to Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (1995) as "Buried Secrets/Vergrabene Geheimnisse"; Arizona State
1994
"Bill Viola: Territorio do Invisivel/Site of the Unseen", Centro Cultural/Banco do Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1993
"Bill Viola", Musee d'Art Contemporain de Montreal
1992
"Bill Viola. Unseen Images/Niegesehene Bilder/Images jamais vues ", Stadtische Sweden (1993); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (1993); Musee Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland (1993); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England (1993), Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (1994)
1992
"Bill Viola: Two Installations", Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, England
1992
"Bill Viola", Donald Young Gallery, Seattle; Washington
1992
Passages de l’image, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
1990
"Bill Viola: The Sleep of Reason", Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Jouy-en-Josas, France
1989
"Bill Viola", Fukui Fine Arts Museum of Art, Fukui City, Japan, The 3rd Fukui International Video Biennale
1988
American Landscape Video: The Electronic Grove, The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA