Vito Acconci American, 1940-2017


Vito Acconci (American, b.1940) is a sculptor, video artist, performance artist, and architect born in the Bronx, NY. He earned a BA from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and, from 1962 until 1964, he was enrolled in the University of Iowa’s MFA writing program. In 1969, Acconci began producing visual art, after originally focusing on writing and poetry. From 1970 until 1974, Acconci performed a series of activities, including Broad Jump ‘71, staged at the Convention Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, which was a jumping competition for male contestants vying for a woman as the winning prize. Acconci’s works and performances frequently contained incendiary social commentary. Seedbed (1971), a performance piece which is perhaps Acconci’s most notable and infamous work, positioned the artist beneath a wooden ramp at the Sonnabend Gallery, where he masturbated, for eight hours a day over a three-week period, and broadcast his fantasies through a loudspeaker while viewers walked overhead.

In the 1980s, Acconci turned to sculptural works and installation pieces. These included furniture made from disparate materials, such as his Garbage Seating (1986), made from trash cans, soil, and tree branches. More recently, Acconci and his Brooklyn-based studio were commissioned by New York’s Metro Transit Authority to create installations within subway stations. Wall-Slide (2002), installed in the 161st Street Yankee Stadium station, and made from stone, tile, and fiberglass, gives viewers the impression that they are seeing the stone and steel skeleton of the subway system beneath its glossy tiles.

Acconci Studio was formed in 1988 by Acconci and a group of architects, who together design public buildings and structures. Acconci’s work has been exhibited in a variety of venues, including the Barbara Gladstone Gallery and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has taught at multiple institutions, such as the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University, and the Parsons School of Design. Acconci currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.