At the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center
November 27, 2007-June 15, 2008
November 8, 2007
LOS ANGELES—Pioneering video artist Bill Viola’s Emergence will once again be on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, November 27, 2007, through June 15, 2008 to coincide with the special exhibitions Medieval Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art, October 30, 2007, through January 20, 2007, and California Video, March 15 through June 8, 2008.
Emergence was commissioned by the Getty Museum and created for Bill Viola: The Passions, a large-scale exhibition of Viola’s work organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 2003. The Passions opened to great acclaim at the Getty in January 2003, and then traveled to the National Gallery in London, the Fundacio La Caixa in Madrid, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
In Emergence, Viola stages a scene with elements of entombment and resurrection in which two women sit by a well—water pouring from it—as a pale young man slowly rises to the surface. As the video progresses, they lift him from the water and lay him to rest on the ground. The piece is based on a fresco painting of the Pietà by the15th-century Italian artist Masolino, which depicts Christ in a sarcophagus, being supported on either side by his mourning mother and St. John. Viola used 35mm film to record the scene at 210 frames per second (almost seven times normal speed) before transferring it to high-definition video and extensively slowing the film—resulting in an image of dazzling clarity that reinforces the poignancy of the act, which is charged by associations of death and birth, grief and joy.
The long-term installation of this important work from the Getty’s collection coincides with two important exhibitions at the Getty Center. First, it accompanies Medieval Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art, which brings more than 120 masterworks of sacred and secular art from the 3rd to the 16th century to the Getty from Cleveland. Among these are important works from Italy and Germany, which give an accurate representation of religious themes prevalent during this time, including the Master of Rabenden’s Pietà (1515-20)—a German sculpture employing the narrative of the Virgin Mary cradling Christ, similar in likeness to Masolino’s Pietà, which inspired Emergence.
The installation will remain on view through the spring to correspond with California Video, a major survey on single-channel video work produced in the Golden State from 1967 to the present, which will include Viola, among 60 other artists.
About the Artist
Since the 1970s, using the first portable video cameras, Bill Viola has explored the inner landscapes of consciousness and perception. He intends his work to be a means of transformation both for himself and for viewers through a heightened experience of the world and the self. In 1998, Viola was a guest scholar at the Getty Research Institute. He lives and works in Long Beach, California.
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