Home Magazine "Bill Viola / Michelangelo. Life Death Rebirth" at the Royal Academy of Art

The American video artist Bill Viola come back with another tribute to the renaissance: “Bill Viola / Michelangelo. Life Death Rebirth”. The exhibition is hosted now at the Royal Academy of Art in London until the 31st of March.

Indeed, after the big success of "Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance" at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence in 2017, the artist returns with a series of works that investigates the human experiences of birth and death together with a strong spiritual aura, in a renaissance’s frame that testifies his connection to the greats masterpieces of Michelangelo Buonarroti, just for mention the biggest one. Discover more about the latest advances in the video art field on Kooness


Bill Viola. Rinascimento Elettronico. Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze, 2017 


Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Risen Christ, c.1532-3. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018.


The exhibition brings with an important moment of the artist's life: the visit in 2006 at Windsor Castle, where the artist noted, among the huge Royal Collection, some Michelangelo drawing as the Crucifixion, as well as Michelangelo’s only marble sculpture in the UK, the Virgin and Child with the Infant St John (named “Taddei Tondo”). All works by Viola transform painting into living matter.

From these works, Viola inherits the vigours shapes expressed by the bodies and their torsions, the restlessness communicated by the faces that makes Michelangelo a precursor of the “mannerist” genre. Another key for understanding this groups of works is to consider the period of 18 months that the artist spent in Florence during the 1970s in the guise of technical director of production for Art/Tapes/22: one of the first video art studios in Europe. Since this moment in Bill Viola's videos, we can see the iridescent's colours of the “Sistine Chapel” and the extraordinary commingling between the characters' suffering and their continuous desire to leave the earthly life to reach the eternal one.


To the left: Jacopo Pontormo, La Visitazione, 1528-1530 / To the right: Bill Viola, The Greeting, 1995. 


The exhibition brings together all of this imaginary to create a beautiful dialogue between the Michelangelo' works belonging Windsor Collection and twelve installations by Viola (spanning his entire career), including the extraordinary Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall), a five-metre-high projection depicting the ascent of the soul after death.


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