Biography of Vitto Acconci (1940-VVVV)

Writer, editor, painter, sculptor, photographer, video artist and American performer born in the neighborhood of the Bronx (New York) in 1940. It is one of the main representatives of the artistic movement known as Body art.

After completing secondary school he enrolled in to follow studies of literature and art in the Holy Cross College in Worcester (Massachusetts) in 1962. After this, he moved to Iowa where extended studies at the University of fine arts in the city, where he graduated in 1964. Trained in the art of poetic creation rather than the plastic arts, the Centre of gravity of his artistic practice was away from literature towards the field of performative booming art during the second half of the Decade of the sixties and early seventies. The progressive approach towards a "poetry of action" was creative fruit of the crisis suffered by the artist between 1964 and 1969.

After abandoning poetry and become plastic artist, in his later works he ventured on artistic grounds that distinguish this action as a performer of its activities closer to the concept of Body-Art conceived by its creators as a series of communication processes in which the artist uses only your body as a unique vehicle for artistic creation. Like their European colleagues, artists who practiced Body-Art in the United States also approached a point of destructive against his own body autoviolencia as the case of the artists Chris Burden (in his piece "shot"), is Gina Pane ("ladder") or the own Vito Acconci ("Trademarks"). In 1970, the artist made his transformation action. In this piece, Acconci uses what he calls "poetry of the body", from analysis and introspection, reflection on gender issues. For this purpose, the artist tries to transmute to the opposite sex performing a series of actions against their own masculinity.

The year 1971 was the most prolific in terms of the number of actions performed and in which he developed his theory of "energy fields". The first of the works of this led by title telling secrets (1971), for which the artist hid in a shed near the Hudson River and was whispering against viewers confessions. In the same area is developed which is perhaps the most popular in the work of Acconci piece: Seed Bed "semillero" (1971). This was developed at the prestigious New York's Sonnabend Gallery. For their accomplishment, Acconci installed a wooden ramp leaning on the floor of the gallery. Hidden under it, the artist masturbated it and pronounced phrases for spectators who were on stage. To perform the piece Trademarks ("Trademarks", 1971), the naked artist bit different parts of your body to subsequently apply black color on the marks made ink and then printing them on paper. As it says the own Acconci with respect to this work: "becoming white (of my aggression) me closure in myself; already not I introduce myself as a human being but as an object". During the prolific year of 1971, Acconci made more pieces as described previously entitled "transformations". Within its Conversions I, II and III series, the actor filmed in super 8 mm a series of actions next to transvestism, in which 72 minutes the artist resorted to sophisticated multimedia elements (light, sound, etc.) to change sex. Another of their shares registered also, although in this case on video, was the piece Centers ("centers", 1971), in which the artist recorded himself in front of a television screen.

Before leaving the field of Body-Art to get into the more conventional practice of painting and sculpture, Acconci made a new action in 1974. The piece, titled command Performance, consisted of an installation in which the artist invited the Viewer to participate in an empty space with the only company of a Chair and a video monitor. The experimentation of the artist in the field of the new medium which meant Body-Art, earned him the recognition of critics and institutions; Why were granted numerous fellowships including granted by the State of the arts New York Council (1974), by the National Endowment for the Arts (in the years 1976, 1980 and 1983), by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1979) and granted in 1986 by the American Academy in Rome and the German Academy of Berlin.

Apart from his role as artist, Acconci has developed extensive work as an editor and as a teacher. From 1969 until its extinction was editor of the art magazine 9 to 0. As associate or Assistant Professor has taught at the following academic institutions: School of Visual Arts in New York (1968-1971, and later in 1977), the College of art and design in Halifax (1971-1972), the Art Institute of California in Valencia and the University of Iowa (1976), the Cooper Union in New York (1981), the school of art of the Institute of ChicagoIllinois (1983), the College of art and design of Minneapolis (1984), the universities of North Carolina and Yale (1985) and the school of design Parsons New York (1987). He has participated in important international artistic events such as the Venice Biennale (1976), and on two occasions he has been selected to represent his country at the prestigious Kassel Dokumenta in its fifth and seventh editions (1972 and 1982).

The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


BARZEL, a. (Editor). Vito Acconci. (Prato, Museum of contemporary art Luigi Pecci, 1992).

VV.. The art of the 20th century. (Madrid, Debate, 1999).