Vanessa Beecroft (born April 25, 1969) is an Italian contemporary artist living in Los Angeles.
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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. 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.
Beecroft’s first exhibition was VB01, in Milan (1993). The following year she exhibited at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, which was the first time she had exhibited in New York City. Later in 1994, VB08 took place at P.S.1 in Long Island City, New York.
Beecroft's performances have occurred at a variety of major 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.
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. For the same event, Beecroft placed models on the shelves next to Louis Vuitton bags.
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.
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.
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.