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BILL VIOLA (Visual Artist) is a pioneer in the medium of video art and is today recognized as one of the leading video artists on the international scene. His work can be found in the permanent collections of major museums worldwide. For 35 years he has made videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, and works for television broadcast. His writings have been widely published. Viola's video installations employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. They explore 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.
After graduating from Syracuse University in 1973, Viola studied and worked with the composer David Tudor, and under Tudor's direction, he participated in the Rainforest group, experimenting with music and sonic sculpture. His experience with music composition and performance profoundly informed his visual work.
Viola has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a 1989 MacArthur Foundation grant and honorary doctorates of fine arts, the most recent from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2004.
Major exhibitions of his work include Bill Viola: Installations and Videotapes, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1987; Unseen Images, organized by Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1992; Buried Secrets at the U.S. Pavilion, 46th Venice Biennale, 1995; and Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey, organized in 1997 by the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2002, Viola completed Going Forth By Day, commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum, New York and Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, also shown in Bill Viola: Temporality and Transcendence at the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain. In 2003 the J. Paul Getty Museum organized Bill Viola: The Passions; other venues included the National Gallery, London; the Fondación "La Caixa" in Madrid; and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. One of the largest exhibitions of Viola's installations to date, Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume (First Dream) (October 26, 2006-January 8, 2007), drew over 340,000 visitors to the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. A reduced version of the exhibition traveled to the Hyogo Prefectural Museum in Kobe, Japan.
His 1994 video/film Déserts, created to accompany the music composition Déserts by Edgard Varèse, was commissioned by the Ensemble Modern and ZDF German Television, receiving its American premiere at the Hollywood Bowl in 1999 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. In 2000 Viola created a suite of three new video pieces for the rock group Nine Inch Nails' "Fragility" world tour. In 2004 Viola began collaborating with director Peter Sellars, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and executive producer Kira Perov to create a new production of Richard Wagner's opera, Tristan and Isolde, which was presented in project form by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in December 2004. The complete opera received its world premiere at the Opéra National de Paris, Bastille, in April 2005.