Vanessa Beecroft


“In Italy, as a child, culture became a landscape and an immediate background. Instead of a flower you’d see a Laurana head or a Pollaiolo painting. You were raised not seeing the difference between a girl, a Piero della Francesca portrait, and a random religious painting on a fresco on your walk to school. The sources of my inspiration became the paintings and sculptures of the 15th and 17th century, and the architecture of any era.” Donated by the artist. Digital C-print, 2006-2018, 230.8 x 177.8 cm. Photography © Matthu Placek.

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Born in Genoa in 1969. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

In Vanessa Beecroft’s performances, the bodies of more or less naked young women appear isolated and frozen beyond an invisible barrier, and their mutism produces the strange effect of ‘bouncing’ the onlookers’ gaze back onto them. The work here exhibited represents Beecroft herself: she created it during her research trip to South Sudan in 2006.
It depicts a twentieth-century Virgin as she breastfeeds children who are not her own. Her images are always driven by specific choreographies: perspective, focal point and symmetry are elements that haunt the artist’s work, and that are directed across an invisible chessboard in space. Beecroft’s artistic research is, in fact, entirely imbibed in a sense of classicism, with particular sensitivity to the Italian Renaissance tradition, which is a substantial source of nourishment for her poetics. After graduating from the Brera Academy of Milan in 1993, from a very young age Vanessa Beecroft showed a propensity towards the compositional construction and staging of tableaux vivants (or living pictures) that deal with issues concerning women, the gaze, desire, the female body and its interaction with the fickle world of fashion, denouncing the complex and thorny relationships that these issues trigger in our society. “I feel performance to be more attitudinal because it is conceptual; I have a vision of an image before I move on to its implementation,” says the artist in a 2019 interview.