Vanessa Beecroft

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Vanessa Beecroft
Beecroft in White Madonna with Twins (2006)
Born (1969-04-25)April 25, 1969
Genoa, Italy
Nationality Italian
Education Civico Liceo Artistico Nicolò Barabino, Architettura, Genoa
Accademia Ligustica Di Belle Arti Pittura, Genoa
Brera Academy, Milan
Known for Performance, photography, drawing, painting, sculpture
Notable work VB Performances
Movement Relational art

Vanessa Beecroft (born April 25, 1969) is an Italian contemporary artist living in Los Angeles.

Artistic practice[edit]

Vanessa Beecroft's work addresses conceptual concerns as well as aesthetic concerns. Her performance art is often large scale and often involves live female models, often nude. At her performances, video recordings and photographs are made, to be exhibited as documentation of the performances, but also as separate works of art. She sets up a structure for the participants in her live events to create their own ephemeral composition.[1] The performances are existential encounters between models and audience, their shame and their expectations. Each performance is made for a specific location and often references the political, historical, or social associations of the place where it is held. Beecroft's work is deceptively simple in its execution, provoking questions around identity politics and voyeurism in the complex relationship between viewer, model and context.[2]

Beecroft's performances have been described as art, fashion, brilliant, terrible, evocative, provocative, disturbing, racist, sexist, and empowering.[3][4][5] The primary material in her work is the live female figure. These women, mainly unclothed, similar, unified through details like hair color, or identical shoes, stand motionless, unapproachable and regimented in the space while viewers watch them. Neither performance nor documentary, Beecroft's live events are recorded through photography and film, but her conceptual approach is actually closer to painting: she makes contemporary versions of the complex figurative compositions that have challenged painters from the Renaissance onwards. Beecroft's more recent work has a slightly more theatrical approach—the uniforms are period clothing, not nudity, and some of her performances include food, while others have featured men in military attire.[2]


VB61, Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf? (2007) at the 52nd Venice Biennale

Beecroft’s first exhibition was VB01, in Milan (1993), in which she presented a series of drawings along with the past eight years of her Food Diary. The following year she exhibited in New York City for the first time, at the Andrea Rosen Gallery. Later in 1994, VB08 took place at P.S.1 in Long Island City, New York.

In VB39 (1999) and in VB42 (2000), the artist explored the possibilities of fully male performances with the US Navy in San Diego, California, and with the US Silent Service (submarine) at the Intrepid in New York City, respectively.

Beecroft's performances have taken place at many notable art institutions: VB28 at the Venice Biennale in 1997; VB35 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 1998; VB40 at the MCA, Sydney, Australia in 1999; VB43 at the Gagosian Gallery in London in 2000; VB45 at the Vienna Kunsthalle in 2001; VB50 at the São Paulo Bienal, Brazil in 2002; VB52, part of a retrospective show, at the Castello di Rivoli in 2003; VB54 at an exhibit called Terminal 5 at the TWA Flight Center of JFK Airport in 2004, an exhibition that closed abruptly after the building itself was vandalized during an opening party.[6][7][8]

VB55 (2005) featured one hundred women standing still in Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie for three hours, each woman oiled from the waist up and wearing nothing but a pair of pantyhose.

In October 2005, Beecroft staged a performance on the occasion of the opening of the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.[9] For the same event, Beecroft placed models on the shelves next to Louis Vuitton bags.[10]

Beecroft's work—specifically VB46, at the Gagosian Gallery in California—has come under fire by feminist artist groups like the Toxic Titties. Beecroft does not acknowledge the time commitment, exertion, and treatment endured by her models, leading critics to question the conceptual ideas put forth in her work.[11]

On the occasion of the 52nd Venice Biennale, Beecroft staged one of her most politically engaged performances, VB61, Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf? (2007). It involved "approximately 30 Sudanese women lying face-down on a white canvas on the ground, simulating dead bodies piled on top of one another" and represented the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.[12]

Beecroft’s attempt to adopt Sudanese twins was the topic of the documentary The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins by Pietra Brettkelly, which was included in the Sundance Film Festival's World Cinema Documentary Competition. The film presents Beecroft as a "hypocritically self-aware, colossally colonial pomo narcissist" and chronicles her "damaging quotes and appalling behavior" as she attempts to adopt two Sudanese orphans for use in an art exhibit.[13][14]

One of her recent performances, VB65, took place at PAC in Milan in March 2009, and featured a "Last Supper" of African immigrants, legal and illegal, dressed in suits, eating chicken without cutlery.[15]


  • 1969 - Born in Genoa, Italy
  • 1983 - 1987: Civico Liceo Artistico Nicolò Barabino, Architettura, Genoa, Italy
  • 1987 - 1988: Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, Pittura, Genoa, Italy
  • 1988 - 1993: Accademia di Belle Arti, Brera (Stage Design), Milan, Italy

From her marriage to sociologist Greg Durkin she has two sons.[16]


Selected solo exhibitions and performances

Public collections[edit]

  • Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Turin
  • Centro de Artes Visuales Helga de Alvear, Cáceres
  • Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg
  • Fotomuseum Winterthur
  • FRAC Limousin, Limoges
  • Galleria Civica d´Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin
  • Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
  • Institut d'art contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, Villeurbanne
  • Kunstpalais Erlangen, Erlangen
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Museo d´Arte Contemporanea, Rome
  • Moderna Museet, Stockholm
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
  • Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City


  • Dave Hickey, Vanessa Beecroft: Performances (Hatje Cantz, 1999)
  • Marcella Beccaria, Germano Celant, Jeffrey Deitch, Thomas Kellein, Vanessa Beecroft Performances, 1993–2003 (Castello di Rivoli, 2003)
  • Karin Kampwerth, Vanessa Beecroft (Hatje Cantz, 2004)
  • Thomas Kellein, Vanessa Beecroft: Photographs, Films, Drawings (Bielefeld Städt Kunstthalle, 2004)
  • Francesco Bonami, Maria Luisa Frisa, Line Rosenvinge, Vanessa Beecroft: VB53 (Charta Books, 2005)
  • Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Mario Scaglia, Vanessa Beecroft: Drawings and Paintings 1993-2007 (Electa, 2007)
  • Alexandra Polier, Jeffrey Deitch, Riccardo Lisi, Vanessa Beecroft: VB LV (Charta Books, 2007)
  • Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, VB65 PAC Milano: Vanessa Beecroft (Electa Mondadori, 2010)


  1. ^ Deitch Projects press text[dead link]
  2. ^ a b Francis Summers: "Vanessa Beecroft" Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, November 16, 2007.
  3. ^ Larocca, Amy. "The Bodies Artist". NYMAG. NYMAG. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  4. ^ Claire, Voon. "Vanessa Beecroft Publicly Airs a Racist Perspective". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  5. ^ Kirsch, Corinna; Farley, Michael. "Vanessa Beecroft Continues to Prove She Doesn't Deserve Comparison With Rachel Dolezal". Artfcity. 
  6. ^ "Port Authority Shuts Art Exhibit in Aftermath of Rowdy Party". The New York Times, Carol Vogel, October 7, 2004. October 7, 2004. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  7. ^ "A Review of a Show You Cannot See"., Tom Vanderbilt, January 14, 2005. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Art Exhibition at JFK Airport's TWA Terminal Abruptly Shut Down". Architectural Record, John E. Czarnecki,, October 11, 2004. [dead link]
  9. ^ Louis Vuitton :: Louis Vuitton Hosts a Star-Studded Celebration for the Inauguration of Its Champs-Elysees House
  10. ^ artnet Magazine - PARIS À LA MODE
  11. ^
  12. ^ Vanessa Beecroft VB61 Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf?
  13. ^ ‘Art Star’ Vanessa Beecroft: Slammed at Sundance - Vulture
  14. ^ Glen Helfand (January 23, 2008). "LETTER FROM... More than Movies". ARTINFO. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  15. ^ MIART è la mostra internazionale[dead link]
  16. ^ Thurman, Judith. Essay: "The Wolf at the Door" in Cleopatra's Nose. New York, Simon and Schuster, 2006.
  17. ^ Press release VB66[dead link]
  18. ^ Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea[dead link]

External links[edit]