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Bill Viola: The Passions
Bill Viola: The Passions

Edited by John Walsh

J. Paul Getty Museum
298 pages, 10 1/4 x 10 1/4 inches
250 color and 30 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-0-89236-713-9
hardcover, Out of Print  2003


Human emotions are the subject of The Passions, a series of twenty video works made by the contemporary artist Bill Viola (b. 1951) during the past two years. Since the mid-1970s, Viola's video installations have dealt with themes of perception, memory, and self-knowledge. In these new works he has grappled with one of the oldest problems in art: how to convey the power and complexity of emotion by depicting the facial expressions and body language of models—or in Viola's case, of performers.

Bill Viola: The Passions explores the genesis and meaning of this extraordinary suite of works. The book is published in conjunction with an exhibition—which will unveil Emergence, a new work in the Passions series commissioned by the Getty—on view at the Getty Museum from January 24 to April 27, 2003, and at the National Gallery, London, from October 22, 2003 to January 4, 2004. In an opening essay, John Walsh traces Viola's career and examines the intellectual and psychological concerns that have preoccupied Viola over the years. Walsh then offers a first-person account of Viola's filming of Emergence. A conversation between Viola and Hans Belting reveals Viola's current interests and the role that older works of art have played in his development. Peter Sellars meditates upon the spiritual foundation of Viola's work. In addition, Viola presents both images and texts that served as sources for many of the Passions works. Finally, Kira Perov contributes her own documentary photographs and compiles richly illustrated frame sequences from each of the twenty Passions pieces, accompanied by descriptions by Viola.

John Walsh is director emeritus of the Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. Hans Belting is professor of art history and media theory at the School for New Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. Peter Sellars is a theater, opera, and television director, and professor in the World Arts and Cultures Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. Kira Perov is an arts administrator, editor, and widely-published photographer. She has worked closely with Bill Viola, her partner and husband, since 1978.

This title is out of print. Please look for it at your local libraries and/or used bookstores.