Bill Viola by John Walsh
The Passions

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Human emotions are the subject of "The Passions", a series of 20 video works made by the contemporary artist Bill Viola (b. 1951). Since the mid-1970s, Viola's video installations have dealt with themes of perception, memory and self-knowledge. In these new works he has grappled with one of the oldest problems in art: how to convey the power and complexity of emotion by depicting the facial expressions and body language of models or, in Viola's case, of performers. Written to accompany an exhibition on view at the Getty Museum from 24th January to 27th April 2003, and which will unveil "Emergence" - a new, commissioned work in the "Passions" series -this is an exploration of the genesis and meaning of this extraordinary suite of works. In an opening essay, John Walsh traces Viola's career and examines the intellectual and psychological concerns that have preoccupied Viola over the years. Walsh then offers a first-person account of Viola's filming of "Emergence". A conversation between Viola and Hans Belting reveals Viola's current interests and the role that older works of art have played in his development. Peter Sellars explores the spiritual foundation of Viola's work. In addition, Viola presents both images and texts that served as sources for many of the "Passions" works. Finally, selected frames from the "Passions" works are reproduced, with explanatory notes by the artist.

About John Walsh

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John Walsh has been Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum since 1983. Previously, he was curator of paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In addition to articles in such publications as The Connoisseur and Burlington Magazine, he is the author of several exhibition catalogues including AMirror of Nature with Cynthia P. Schneider. Hans Belting is Professor for Art History and Media Theory at the Academy for Design in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Published March 20, 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA. 308 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Literature & Fiction, History. Non-fiction

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It's not easy to encapsulate the work of a video artist in an exhibit catalogue, but Viola's art lends itself to stills and those stills to long scrutiny.

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