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A World of Art

Biographical Sketch: Bill Viola

Bill Viola
Video artist Bill Viola was born January 25, 1951, in New York City. From his earliest days, he was captivated by television, and in the 5th grade, at P.S. 20 in Queens, he was named Captain of the "T.V. Squad." He attended Syracuse University, where he studied in the Experimental Studios of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1973. After graduation, he studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the new music group "Rainforest" (later called "Composers Inside Electronics"). He worked as technical director in charge of production at Art/Tapes/22, a video studio in Florence, Italy, from 1974-76, and as Artist-in-residence at WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory in New York from 1976-83.

Since 1976, he has traveled extensively: to the Solomon Islands in 1976 to record traditional music and dance; to Java, Indonesia, in 1977 to record traditional performing arts; and that same year to Australia, where he met Kira Perov, now his wife and managing director. In 1979, he traveled to Tunisia to videotape mirages, and he lived in Japan from 1980-81 supported by a Japan/U.S. Creative Arts Fellowship, at which time he was also artist-in-residence at Sony Corporation's Atsugi Laboratories.

He has had well over 30 one-person exhibitions of his work, and has won numerous prizes and fellowships, including two Visual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and, in 1989, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He was most recently selected to represent the United States at the 1995 Venice Biennial. One of the works created for that exhibition, The Greeting, is the subject of this segment of A World of Art: Works in Progress.


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