Vanessa Beecroft

VB66, 2010-2011
Video still
Blu-ray, Producer: Max Brun, Cinematographer: Kyle Kibble, Editing: Bella Erikson
Music: The Naming by Philip Glass ©1986 Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc. Used by Permission.
Courtesy Galleria Lia Rumma Milano/Napoli

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 443


The works of Vanessa Beecroft merge beauty and suffering, the aesthetic rendering of reality and an obsession with perfection. From the very beginning of her career the artist has focused her research on the female body, staging performative events in which she creates choreographies of naked female bodies that become complex tableaux vivants.

VB66 was made in an unusual location, the fish market in Naples, where Beecroft exhibited fifty models painted in black and arranged on a large platform made out of the market counters on which fish were usually displayed. The models take up positions that create precise references to various ways of portraying the female body in order to reflect on the representation of beauty in the history of art, from ancient statuary to modern painting.

The main iconographical reference appears to be the bodies of the inhabitants of Herculaneum and Pompeii, made eternal by the incandescent lava of Vesuvius. The paradox of the life and death of those “living sculptures” is echoed in Beecroft’s female figures, bodies that breathe and live in spite of their funereal stillness. The models are place in close contact with fragments of black statues, casts of arms, torsos and legs, and the onlooking spectator is called upon to reconstitute these various elements into a single meta-composition.

Photography and video extend the life of performative events, becoming independent works in themselves. While photograph VB66.141 underlines that aesthetic of the fragment, the longitudinal composition of VB66.164 creates a panorama in which the play of lines of the legs and platforms works to create the image as a harmonious and symmetrical whole. The artist herself declares that she realizes all her works in terms of “geometric compositions”, drawing inspiration from Renaissance painters like Piero della Francesca or Raphael not only for a reflection on the relationship between figure and space, but also for that sense of perfection and formal control characteristic of their work. The sculpture Miki Torso Nero is further evidence of the hybridization between the classical and the contemporary. The composition and the use of materials show a classical preparation, yet the relations between the different elements of the work seem to be opposed to it. The use of different media also leads us to reflect on the multiple and even contradictory temporal dimensions in Beecroft’s works. The “real time” of the performance that transpires over a long duration in front of the public contrasts with the instantaneous dimension of photography. This draws attention to the ephemeral nature of the event as compared to the presumption of eternity to which the traditional ideals of the artist constantly aspire.

Vanessa Beecroft (1969, Genoa, Italy; lives and works in Los Angeles) focuses her work around the theme of the female body, primarily in her tableaux vivants performance pieces inhabited by live nude models, but also in photography, sculpture and video art, moving between the aesthetics of idealized classical forms and the politics of contemporary issues of self-image and objectification. She studied painting at the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti in Genoa, then went on studying scenic design at the Accademia di belle arti di Brera in Milan. Beecroft created her performance at the Galleria Luciano Inga-Pin, Milan in 1993, while her first solo exhibition was held at the Galleria Fac-Simile, Milan in 1994. Today she is represented by the Galleria Lia Rumma and has exhibited her work and created site specific projects for some of the world’s major museums and galleries including: (2011) Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan; (2010) Fish market, Naples; (2009) Long Island City, New York, USA; (2008) Chiesa dello Spasimo, Palermo;  (2007) Pescheria di Rialto, Venice, Biennale di Venezia; Gana Art Gallery, Seoul; (2006) The National Gallery, London; Espace Louis Vuitton, Paris, France; (2005) Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany; (2004) Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany; TWA Terminal 5, JFK Airport, New York, USA; (2003) Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; (2002) Sao Paolo Biennial, Brazil; (2001) Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, Italy; (1998) Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; (1994) P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York, USA.

« back to exhibition

An Idea of Beauty

Information: +39 26 45 155
Reservations: +39 055 24 69 600
Cliccando sul bottone go si dichiara di aver letto ed accettatto le politiche sulla privacy

EVENTS CALENDAR:  December 2023
« Jun    

ARTIST ARCHIVE  click on the letter


Con la grande mostra dedicata ad Ai Weiwei (23 settembre 2016-22 gennaio 2017) per la prima volta Palazzo Strozzi diventa uno spazio espositivo unitario che comprende facciata, Cortile, Piano Nobile e Strozzina.

L’arte contemporanea esce dalla Strozzina e si espande sia a livello espositivo che di comunicazione, in uno scenario in cui Palazzo Strozzi partecipa attivamente all’avanguardia artistica del nostro tempo.

Per questo motivo le informazioni relative alla mostra Ai Weiwei. Libero e il programma di mostre e attività future dedicato all'arte contemporanea saranno consultabili direttamente al sito e sui canali social di Palazzo Strozzi.