Francis Alÿs (Belgian, b.1959) is a painter and Conceptual artist, best known for large-scale performances that address the social and political models of the urban environment. Born in Antwerp, Alÿs studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium, and the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice, graduating in 1986. Many of his works are based in Mexico City—where he has lived for more than 20 years—including his project, Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing (1997), for which he dragged a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it melted.

Alÿs seeks to create metaphors from bodies in motion. For When Faith Moves Mountains (2002), Alÿs, along with 500 volunteers, unsuccessfully attempted to move a sand dune four inches in an area near Lima, Peru. In 2005, as part of his project The Green Line, Alÿs walked across Jerusalem with a can that dripped green paint, following the line that was drawn as part of the armistice after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He also works extensively in video, painting, drawing, and photography. The 1995 series Le temps du sommeil consists of small paintings that echo his large-scale projects and reinforce the dreamlike quality that characterizes the entire body of his work.

Alÿs’s work has been exhibited in institutions such as the Tate Modern in London and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he has participated in Venice Biennales held in 1999, 2001, and 2007. He is represented by the David Zwirner gallery in New York and the Peter Kilchmann Gallery in Zürich. He lives and works in Mexico City.


Born in Belgium
Institut Supérieur d’Architecture de Tournai, Belgium
Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, Venice
Began performing paseos-walks-in which he traveled on foot around Mexico City's central downtown area
Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico


“México: Inside Out”, Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, Texas, US, cur. Andrea Karnes, Sept. 15 – Jan. 05
“Fabiola”, Pinacoteca, Sao Paolo, Brazil, cur. Lynne Cooke, May – July
“Sharjah Biennial 11”, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, March
“Fabiola”, Fundacao Eva Klabin, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, cur. Lynne Cooke, Feb. – April
“Bilderbedarf. Braucht Gesellschaft Kunst?”, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany, cur. Johan Holten, Oct. 19 – Feb. 17 (2013)
“Fabiola”, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, cur. Lynne Cooke, July 7 (solo)
“Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity”, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, USA. June 30 - Sept 23
“Documenta 12”, Kassel, Germany, cur. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, June 9 – Sept. 16
“Restless”, Adelaide Festival, Australia, cur. Victoria Lynn, March 2 – March 18
“Le Nouveau Pleinairisme”, Museée National des Beaux-Arts, Québec, Canada, cur. Kitty Scott, March 1 – June 25
“Resonance and Silence”, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, April 19 – Nov. 9 “Posada bis Alÿs. Mexikanische Kunst von 1900 bis heute”, cur. Milena Oehy, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, March 16 – May 27
“Unfinished Journeys”, The National Museum of Art, Oslo, Norway, cur. Andrea Kroksnes, Sabrina van der Ley, March 16 - March 20
“Castle in the Air”, Poznan, Poland, cur. Adam Budak
“Fabiola”, Fundacao Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, Brazil, cur. Lynne Cooke, Nov. 14. – Feb. (solo)
Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (solo)
“Fabiola”, Museo de Arte Italiano, Lima, Peru, cur. By Lynne Cooke (solo)
“Francis Alÿs”, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
“What we talk about when we talk about love”, Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa, curated by Federica Angelucci
“Margins: walking between worlds”, Art Exchange, University of Essex, Colchester, England
“Living as Form”, Essex Street Market, New York
“Wunder”, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
“Declining Democracy”, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy, cur. Franziska Nori
“3rd Thessaloniki Biennale”, Thessaloniki, Greece
“The Global Contemporary”, ZKM, Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe, Germany
“barely there, Part II”, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
BACA 2010 Biennial Award Contemporary Art, Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands (solo)
Twenty-first Century, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
Domino Canibal, PAC, Sala Veronicas, Murcia, Spain
Die Nase des Michelangelo, Galerie Peter Kilchmann at Marktgasse, Zurich, Switzerland
Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception, Wiels, Brussels, Belgium (solo)
Beyond Borders - Mexican Public Art, Museum of Sketches, Lund, Sweden
There is always a cup of sea for man to sail, 29th Sao Paolo Biennale, Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Architecture of Tatiana Bilbao, Instituto Cultural de Mexico, San Antonio, TX
Experimental Geography, The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
Francis Alÿs, Tate Modern, London, June 15 - Sept. 5 (solo)
Francis Alÿs, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Feb. 25 (solo)
Experimental Geography, The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, cur. Nato Thompson, Feb. 21 – May 30
Project Europa, Harn Museum, Gainesville, cur. Kerry Olivier-Smith, Feb. 2 – May 9
Tate Modern, London (solo)
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (solo)
Fabiolas, National Portrait Gallery, organized by Dia Art Foundation, May 2 – Sept. 27, ex. cat.
Opposition & Dialogues, Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover, May 30 – Aug. 9
Invasion of Sound, Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw, cur. Agnieszka Morawiñska, Francois Quintin, April 6 – June 14
Waiting for Video: Works from the 1960s to Today, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, cur. Kenjin Miwa, March 31 – June 7
The Collection, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, cur. Siobhan Davies, Victoria Miro, March 23 – April 9
Acting Out, ICA, Boston, cur. Jen Mergel, Nicholas Baume, March 19 – Oct. 19
The Human Stain, CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, cur. Ellen Blumenstein, March 12 – May 31
A la Limit, Galerie Michel Journiac, Paris, March 2 – March 14
Desenhos (Drawings): A-Z, Museu da Cidade, Lisboa, Feb. 6 – March 29
8. Bienal de Arte Panamá 2008, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Panama, Sept. – Oct.
16th Biennnale of Sydney, Sydney, cur. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, June 18 – Sept. 7
The Vincent van Gogh Biennal Award for Contemporary Art 2008, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, June 20 – Sept. 30
Francis Alÿs, Sammlung Goetz, München, May 26 – Oct. 18
Francis Alÿs. Bolero (Shoe Shine Blues) and Politics of Rehearsal, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, Sept. 28 – Dec. 14 (solo)
Fabiolas, County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, cur. Lynne Cooke, Sept. 7 – March 29, 2009 (solo)
Francis Alÿs: Politics of Rehearsal, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, cur. Russel Ferguson
Fabiolas, The Hispanic Society of America, New York, organized by Dia Art Foundation, Sept. 20 – April 6, 2008, ex. cat.
Idylle, National Gallery Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
52nd International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, Italian Pavillion, Venice, Italy
52nd International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, Italian Pavillion, Venice, Italy
skulptur projekte münster 07, Münster, Germany
Francis Alÿs. UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
Francis Alÿs. A Story of Deception, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (solo)
Francis Alÿs - Tacita Dean, Schaulager, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
Francis Alÿs. A Story of Deception, Malba, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Argentina (solo)
Version Animée, Centre pour l'image contemporaine Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
Idylle, Phoenix-Hallen/Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, Germany
Sisyphe, Musée des arts contemporains Grand-Hornu, Hornu, Belgium
SNAFU. Medien, Mythen, Mind Control, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
War is Over, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy
General Ideas: Rethinking Conceptual Art 1990-2004, Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA
fast forward. Avance rapido. Media Art de la Colección Goetz, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid, Spain
Francis Alÿs: Seven Walks, Artangel at 21 Portman Square / National Portrait Gallery, London, UK (solo)
Francis Alÿs: The Green Line, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel (solo)
Francis Alÿs. A pie desde el studio, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain (solo)
Walking Distance from the Studio, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany (solo)
blueOrange prize, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Obra Pictórica, Collection Lambert, Avignon, France; Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)


“3. Thessaloniki biennale of contemporary art”, Paolo Colombo, Mahita El Bacha Urieta, Marina Fokidis, Thessaloniki, Greece, pp. 182 – 182
“Once Upon a Time”, Guggenheim Museum Publications, New York, Egl. / German, pp. 14 – 16
“Francis Alÿs: Fabiola”, Lynne Cooke, Dario Libero Gamboni, Schaulager, Basel, Schwabe Verlag, Basel, ex. cat.
“There is always a cup of sea to sail”, 29th Bienal de Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo, pp. 336 – 338, ex. cat.
“Francis Alÿs: In a given Situation”, texts by Alfonso Reyes, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Ton Marar, publ. by Cosac Naify, Sao Paulo, 29th Sao Paolo Biennale, Sao Paulo, Brasil, ex. cat.
“Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception”, Ed. Mark Godfrey, Klaus Biesenbach, Kerryn Greenberg, Tate Publishing, London, ex. cat.
“Francis Alÿs: Sign Painting Project”. Ed. Theodora Vischer, Schaulager, Basel, Steidl, Göttingen, cat. raisonné
“Francis Alÿs: Le Temps du Sommeil”, Catherine Lampert, Irish Museum of Art, Dublin, Ireland
There is always a cup of sea to sail, 29th Bienal de Sao Paolo, pp. 336 - 338, ex. cat.
Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception, ed. Mark Godfrey, Klaus Biesenbach, Kerryn Greenberg, Tate Publishing, London, ex. cat.
Francis Alÿs: Le Temps du Sommeil, Catherine Lampert, Irish Museum of Art, Dublin, Ireland
Waiting for Video: Works from the 1960s to Today, ed. Kenjin Miwa, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 156 - 157, ex. cat.
Street & Studio, ed. Ute Eskildsen, Tate Modern, London, pp. 138 - 139
A Story of Deception. Patagonien 2003 – 2006, Nikola Dietrich, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, ex. cat.
A Story of Deception / Historia de un desengaño. Patagonia 2003 - 2006, Francis Alÿs, Olivier Debroise, Malba - Colección Constantini, Buenos Aires, ex. cat.
Diez cuadras alrededor del estudio / Walking Distance from the Studio, Francis Alÿs, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City, ex. cat.
Francis Alÿs - Seven Walks. London, 2004-5, Artangel, London, ex. cat.
When Faith Moves Mountains / Cuando La Fe Mueve Montañas, Francis Alÿs, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Turner, Madrid
The Modern Procession, Francis Alÿs, Public Art Fund, New York, ex. cat.
Francis Alÿs: Walking Distance from the Studio, Annelie Lütgens, Kunstmuseum
Time is a Trick of the Mind, Andreas Bee, Museum für Moderne Kunst & Revolver, Frankfurt am Main, ex. cat.
The Prophet and the Fly, Catherine Lampert, Turner, Madrid, artist’s book and ex. cat
Francis Alÿs. The Last Clown, David G. Torres, Sala Montcada La Caixa, Barcelona, ex. cat.