New York, 1951
Bill Viola was born in New York in 1951 and graduated from Syracuse University in 1973. A seminal figure in the field of video art, he has been creating installations, video/films, sound environments, flat panel video pieces and works for concerts, opera and sacred spaces for over four decades.
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.
Viola represented the US at the Venice Biennale in 1995. Other key solo exhibitions include; Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art (1997); The Passions at the J. Paul Getty Museum (2003); Hatsu-Yume (First Dream) at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo in 2006; Bill Viola, visioni interiori at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 2008; Bill Viola, Grand Palais, Paris 2014; and Bill Viola: Electronic Renaissance, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2017. Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), the first of two permanent works created for St Paul’s Cathedral, London, was inaugurated in 2014, followed by Mary in 2016. In 2004 Viola created a four-hour long video for Peter Sellars’ production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde that has had many performances in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. Throughout his career, Viola has received numerous awards including a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award (1989), XXI Catalonia International Prize (2009), and the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association (2011).
Kira Perov is executive director of Bill Viola Studio. She has worked closely with Bill Viola—her husband and partner—since 1979, managing, creatively guiding and assisting with the production of all of his videotapes and installations as well as documenting the process in photographs. She also curates and coordinates exhibitions of his work worldwide, and oversees the publication of all his exhibition catalogues. Her recent books include “Bill Viola: visioni interiori” (Palazzo dell Esposizioni, Rome, 2008), “Bill Viola” (with Jérôme Neutres, Grand Palais, Paris, 2014), “Bill Viola” (with John Hanhardt, Thames & Hudson, London, 2015), and “Bill Viola: Electronic Renaissance” (with Arturo Galansino, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence).