Monica Bonvicini

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Monica Bonvicini
Born (1965-02-03) 3 February 1965 (age 53)
Venice, Italy
Nationality Italian
Education Hochschule der Künste, Berlin; CalArts
Known for Conceptual art, installation art, sculpture
Awards Golden Lion

Monica Bonvicini (born 1965 in Venice) is an Italian artist. She lives and works in Berlin. Since 2003 Bonvicini has been Professor of Sculpture and Performance at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. Starting in 2017, she is the new Professor of Sculpture at the Universität der Künste Berlin.[1] In her work Bonvicini investigates the relationship between power structures, gender and space. Bonvicini works intermediately with installation, sculpture, video, photography, and drawing.[2] Sculptures by Bonvicini are permanently installed in 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 and worked in Los Angeles, where she also taught at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena.[citation needed]


Bonvicini began exhibiting her work internationally in the mid 1990s. Through a variety of mediums, Bonvicini described her practice as an exploration of relationships between architecture, power, gender, 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 work has been featured in several biennals, such as the Berlin Biennale (1998, 2003), the Istanbul Biennial (2003), and the Venice Biennale (2001, 2005, 2011 and 2015), and had solo presentations in renown institutions worldwide. Her work is represented in numerous public collections. Bonvicini’s later works have ties to sadomasochism and are aimed to lead viewers to question their role as witnesses to the installments. Bonvicini’s concern with the roles of both the spectator and creator has influenced her to place the location and exhibition of her works of high importance. Though known for her work as an installation artist, Bonvicini is also recognized for her work with photography and video.


Bonvicini won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999, the National Gallery Prize for Young Art in Berlin in 2005 and the Rolandpreis für Kunst in Bremen in 2013.


Bonvicini works with a great variety of materials, not limited to, steel, polyurethane, metal, chains, wood, spray paint, aluminum, ink, tempera, concrete, and glass. She describes her practice as multi-faceted and her work aims to investigate the relationship between architecture, power, shape, gender, control, surveillance, and space. She strives to create connections between her artwork and the world surrounding it, including herself as the creator, the work’s environment, the materials it’s made of, and those who engage with it as spectators.

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 1999 by Bonvicini to explore gender relations surrounding the world of architecture and construction. Bonvicini describes the work as a confrontation of the “boys club” attitude that often encompasses the world of architecture. The work was exhibited in the 1999 Venice Biennale and takes quotes from famous male architects including August Perret and Adolf Loos. The title of the work refers to the famous quote of male architect Le Corbusier, who shared “I believe in the skin of things as in the skin of women”. The quotes are intertwined with graffiti-like compositions of naked men performing a variety of sexual acts as they gaze upon women who are decorated with jewels. Composed of drywall panels, wood panels, aluminum studs and graphite, this work is an example of Bonvicini’s dry-humour and fearless content that is seen in many of her works.

She Lies, 2010[edit]

Near the Opera Oslo House

A permanent installation, She Lies was publicly revealed on May 11, 2010. The work, commissioned by Public Art Norway, rests in the Bjorvika Fjord, standing in front of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet. The work is made up 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 work, standing at 12 x 17 x 16 meters in size is an interpretation of Caspar David Friedrich’s 1824 painting entitled Das Eismeer. Bonvicini reuses the imagery of the ice masses seen in Friedrich’s painting as a symbolic reference to the north and to symbols of power and change. In reaction to the changing tides surrounding it, the installation turns on an axis while the mirrors and transparent pieces provide constantly changing reflections and interpretations of the works surrounding environment. In an interview with Galerie Max Hetzler, Bonvicini describes the work as “A monument to a state of permanent change.”

RUN, 2012[edit]

A permanent installation at the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in London, the piece was installed for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The work’s composition and title were inspired by the lyrics and language in popular music. A reflection of modern culture, 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 tonnes. Two years after being awarded the commission in Summer 2010, Bonvicini’s work was constructed on the plaza of the London Handball Arena, also known as the Copper Box and is the largest installation in the park. Bonvicini uses the reflective nature of glass again to mirror the installment'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.

Exhibitions (selection)[edit]

Works in public collections (selection)[edit]

  • T-B A21 - Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Wien
  • Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
  • FRAC Lorraine, Metz
  • Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Castello di Rivoli, Turin
  • Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich
  • Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York
  • Lenbachhaus, München

Publications (selection)[edit]

• 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. ^
  2. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]