Monica Bonvicini

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Monica Bonvicini
Born (1965-02-03) 3 February 1965 (age 55)
Venice, Italy
EducationHochschule der Künste, Berlin; CalArts
Known forConceptual art, installation art, sculpture
AwardsGolden Lion

Monica Bonvicini (born 1965 in Venice[1]) is an Italian artist.

Bonvicini has lived and worked in Berlin since 1986. In 2003, Bonvicini was appointed the Professor of Sculpture and Performance at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. Since 2017, she has been the Professor of Sculpture at the Universität der Künste Berlin.[2] In her work Bonvicini investigates the relationship between power structures, gender and space. She works intermediately with installation, sculpture, video, photography and drawing mediums.[3] She has installed permanent artworks at the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in London, the harbour at the Oslo Opera House and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Bonvicini was appointed Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2012.


Bonvicini studied at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. From 1998 to 2002 Bonvicini lived in Los Angeles and taught at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.[4][citation needed]


Bonvicini began exhibiting her work internationally in the mid-1990s. Bonvicini describes her practice as an exploration of relationships between architecture and space, power, gender, sexuality, space, surveillance and control. Her works aim to question and investigate the meaning of making art alongside the flexible nature of language and primarily the idea of freedom and the limits and opportunities that are associated with the word. Her works have been featured in several biennales, such as the Berlin Biennale (1998, 2003 and 2014), the Istanbul Biennial (2003 and 2017), and the Venice Biennale (1999, 2005, 2011 and 2015), are included in numerous public collections, and had solo presentations in renown institutions worldwide. Though known for her work as an installation artist, Bonvicini is also recognized for her photographic and video work.

Awards (selection)[edit]

Bonvicini won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999,[5] the National Gallery Prize for Young Art in Berlin in 2005,[6] the Rolandpreis für Kunst in Bremen in 2013,[7] and the Oskar Kokoschka Prize in Vienna in 2020.[8]


Bonvicini works with a variety of materials, not limited to, drywall, steel, polyurethane, metal, chains, wood, spray paint, aluminium, ink, tempera, concrete, and glass. The artworks often employ language and text, humour and irony. Some of her pieces are courageously explicit, thus pushing and undermining institutional boundaries and questioning the role of spectator. Bonvicini is also commonly described as working site-specifically, creating discursive displays that relate to an exhibiting venue and its operational context. Bonvicini critically explores the legacy of modernism as both an artistic and a social period. She also frequently references minimalism, conceptual art, Institutional Critique, as well as feminist and queer subcultures and civil rights’ and other political movements.

I Believe the Skin of Things as in That of Women, 1999[edit]

This work, entitled I Believe the Skin of Things as in That of Women, was created in 1998 by Bonvicini for a gallery exhibition in Vienna. Harald Szeemann saw the work and invited Bonvicini to take a part in the upcoming Venice Biennale, where it was awarded the Golden Lion next year.[5] The work examines gender relations, manifested in the field of architecture and construction. Bonvicini describes the work as a confrontation with the “boys club” attitude that often encompasses the world of architecture. The installation is an architectural space, constructed from drywall panels. Quotes from famous male architects, including Auguste Perret and Adolf Loos, are written in a graffiti-like style. The title of the work is the famous quote by Le Corbusier.[9] The quotes are intertwined with cartoon-styled compositions of naked men performing a variety of sexual acts as they gaze upon women. Some of these drawings refer to the photographs of early modernist architecture that were supposed to depict and establish a canon of a new, modern domestic dwelling. The work is an example of Bonvicini’s dry-humour and fearless content that is seen in many of her other works.

She Lies, 2010[edit]

A permanent installation She Lies was publicly revealed on May 11, 2010. The work, commissioned by Public Art Norway, floats in Oslofjord in front of the Oslo Opera House. The work is made of styrofoam, stainless steel, reflecting glass panels, and glass splinters and stands on a concrete pontoon that is equipped with an anchoring system. The monumental sculpture (12 x 17 x 16 meters in size) is an interpretation of Caspar David Friedrich’s 1824 painting Das Eismeer. Bonvicini reuses the imagery of the ice masses seen in Friedrich’s painting as a symbolic reference to romanticism and its ideals that established different common and fixed clichés, such as of art and art professionalism, but also of nature and scientific exploration. Reacting to the changing tides, the installation turns around its axis and moves within a range of 50 meters. The mirrors and transparent pieces provide constantly changing reflections. Bonvicini describes the work as “A monument to a state of permanent change.”

RUN, 2012[edit]

RUN is a permanent installation at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London that was installed for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The work’s composition and title were inspired by the lyrics and language in popular music. The work pays reference to specific songs, including The Velvet Underground’s “Run, Run, Run”, Neil Young’s “Running Dry” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”. Constructed from steel and reflective glass, the three installed characters are nine meters tall and each piece weighs ten tons. Bonvicini’s work stands in the plaza of the Copper Box Arena, and is the largest installation in the park. Bonvicini uses the reflective nature of glass again to mirror the installation's changing environment throughout the day. At night, installed LED lights work to cause a glowing effect that is spread throughout the work by the reflective surfaces that are throughout the letters. The references to music, alternative and popular cultures were chosen in response to the processes of gentrification and changing urban scenery that London has witnessed in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Video works[edit]

Besides sculptural and two-dimensional works, Bonvicini also created numerous videos and multimedia installations. These artworks follow the topics common to her practice, interrogating politics of body, gender, space, architecture and art institutions. Sometimes they stem from performances, like her video work “No Head Man,” which originated in the performance conceived for the 27th São Paulo Art Biennial[10]. The works of moving image are often minimalistic, drawing on references to the history of European Nouvelle Vague / Auteur cinema and avant-garde video artists, like Jack Goldstein. The video art of Bonvicini is included in renowned collections worldwide, Julia Stoschek collection[11], Sammlung Hoffmann, FRAC Lorraine[12] and Castello di Rivoli[13] to mention few.

Hurricanes and Other Catastrophes (2006-ongoing)[edit]

In 2006, Bonvicini commenced her black and white painting series, dedicated to the topics of natural disasters, and their ensuing architectural debris and social catastrophes. For these works she uses images found in media or taken by the artist herself while visiting various locations, for example, New Orleans after it had been struck by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The works seek to draw the attention to the political origins and social consequences of the global warming that cause storms and hurricanes to be stronger and occur more often than in the past.

Exhibitions (selection)[edit]

Works in public collections (selection)[edit]

Publications (selection)[edit]

• I cannot hide my anger (2019) • Monica Bonvicini (2017) • Monica Bonvicini (2014) • Disegni (2012) • A Black Hole of Needs, Hopes and Ambitions (2011) • Both Ends (2010) • 7 = 1 Project Rooms (2010) • Monica Bonvicini (2009) • This Hammer Means Business (2009) • Anxiety Attack (2003) • Break it/ Fix it (2003) • Kill Your Father (2002) • EternMale.Bonded EternMale (2002) • Scream and Shake (2001) • What Does Your Wife/Girlfriend Think of Your Rough and Dry Hands (2000) • Bau (1999) • Monica Bonvicini (1999) • Platz Machen (1994)

Bibliography (selection)[edit]



  1. ^ Phaidon Editors (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 67. ISBN 0714878774.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Holzwarth, Hans W. (2009). 100 Contemporary Artists A-Z (Taschen's 25th anniversary special ed.). Köln: Taschen. p. 68. ISBN 978-3-8365-1490-3.
  4. ^ "Does Berlin Need a New Art School?". Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  5. ^ a b "LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA 1999 at La Biennale di Venezia Venice -". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  6. ^ "Preis 2005 - Freunde der Nationalgalerie". Archived from the original on 2018-08-02. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  7. ^ "Rolandpreis geht an Monica Bonvicini" (in German). Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  8. ^ "Berliner Künstlerin Monica Bonvicini erhält Oskar-Kokoschka-Preis". (in German). Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  9. ^ Wogenscky, André (2006). Le Corbusier's Hands. The MIT Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780262232449.
  10. ^ Paulo, Bienal São. "German Art in São Paulo - Bienal". Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  12. ^ "Collection FRAC Lorraine | Monica Bonvicini:Hammering Out (an old argument)". Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  13. ^ "Monica Bonvicini - Castello di Rivoli". Castello di Rivoli (in Italian). Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  14. ^

External links[edit]