Petra Cortright

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Petra Cortright
Petra Cortright.jpg
Born1986 (age 33–34)
MovementInternet art, post-internet, painting, digital painting, video art

Petra Cortright (born 1986) is an American artist working in video, painting, and digital media.


Petra Cortright was born in 1986 in Santa Barbara, California.[1] Cortright is the daughter of two artists; her father, Steven Cortright, was a sculptor/printmaker and art professor at UC Santa Barbara, and her mother was a painter.[2] She studied at California College of the Arts in San Francisco (2004) and Parsons The New School for Design in New York (2008).[3] She lives and works in Los Angeles, California.


Cortright is well known for her video works presented on YouTube and in gallery environments. Her videos playfully explore formal properties of video software and the representation of physical bodies in digital spaces.

In vvebcam (2007), her first video, Cortright filmed herself while playing with the special effects features built into the webcam software used to make the video.[4] It is often noted that her physicality in vvebcam, as captured by the webcam, mirrors that of the work's viewer. vvebcam has also been heralded as shortly predating the rise of the "self-portraiture practice known as the selfie".[citation needed] On Saturday, December 10, 2011, vvebcam (2007) was removed by YouTube because of Cortright's extensive use of "offensive" key words.[5]

In 2011 Cortright collaborated with Ilia Ovechkin to create Video Catalog, a work where the monetary value of her videos is determined by an algorithm based on YouTube views.[6]

Vicky Deep in Spring Valley (2012) marks the beginning of Cortright's video work with virtual strippers. Cortright lifts the dancing girls from VirtuaGirl, a software that makes chroma keyed footage of "strippers" available for download. These videos are layered against flash images of fantastical digital worlds that are reminiscent of animated desktop wallpaper.[7] A 2015 exhibition at Depart Foundation in Los Angeles titled Niki, Lucy, Lola, Viola included cropped_masked_final, a new video work incorporating characters sourced from VirtuaGirl.[8]

Cortright was selected to participate in the 2013 Frieze Art Fair in London where she produced her self-portrait, Bridal Shower (2013),[9] a film where she experiments with the physical qualities of a production studio.[10] The film was subsequently broadcast on British public television station Channel 4.

In 2014, Cortright began a collaboration with fashion designer Stella McCartney, creating a series of videos where Cortright uses glitches and video manipulation to showcase and contrast patterns on the garments designed by McCartney that she models.[11]

Cortright also makes intricate paintings using digital software which blend figurative and abstract elements, which are printed on a variety of materials—most frequently linen, paper, and aluminum. Each of Cortright's paintings begin with a digital file which the artist refers to as a "mother file," which consists of hundreds of Photoshop layers, composed by sampling found images and simulating brushstrokes through the use of digital tools. Those layers are then manipulated to produce an arrangement that is transferred to a substrate through industrial print processes.[12] Often her works are titled to reflect file names and extensions, as well as search terms used to source found imagery.[12]

Cortright's work was included in Paddles On!, the first auction dedicated to digital art hosted by a major auction house (Paddle8, July 2014).[13]

Her works have been shown at the New Museum in New York,[14] Rhizome, the Venice Biennale,[15] the 2010 01SJ Biennial in San Jose, California,[16] and the 12ième Biennale d'art contemporain de Lyon.[17] Her work is in the permanent collections of the Péréz Museum (Miami), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the MOTI (Breda) in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Kadist Foundation (San Francisco), BAMPFA (Berkeley, CA), and the San Jose Museum of Art.


  1. ^ "Foxy Production – PETRA CORTRIGHT". Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "An Interview with Internet Artist Petra Cortright in Los Angeles, California". Arteviste. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  3. ^ "Petra Cortright | Ever Gold [Projects]". Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "VVEBCAM". Rhizome.
  5. ^ "YouTube Art Project 'VVEBCAM' Censored Because of Its Tags". HuffPost. December 16, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 14, 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Wagley, Catherine (July 8, 2015). "Petra Cortright Is Merging Art and the Internet – Using Virtual Strippers". L.A. Weekly.
  8. ^ Greenberger, Alex (July 20, 2015). "Flash Dancers: Petra Cortright on Her New Show at the Depart Foundation". ARTnews. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Sulcas, Roslyn (October 16, 2013). "Frieze London Makes Way for the Unexpected". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Frieze Art Film's Petra Cortright Experiment: Fall In Love Here". October 21, 2013.
  11. ^ "Stella McCartney Collaborated With the Internets New Favorite Artist". The Cut.
  12. ^ a b "Petra Cortright". Art in America. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  13. ^ "Digital Art in the Contemporary Market". Bryson Estates. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Petra Cortright – 2010 01SJ Biennial".
  17. ^,20.html

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