Vanessa Beecroft (Genoa, Italy, 1969) is an Italian contemporary artist living in Los Angeles.
Beecroft uses a unique, personal, artistic language. Her work is a complex fusion of conceptual issues and aesthetic concerns, focusing on large-scale performance art, usually involving 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. The work and her conceptual approach is neither performance nor documentary, but something in between, and closer to Renaissance painting. She sets up a structure for the participants in her live events to create their own ephemeral composition. 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, 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 for the first time, at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York. Later in 1994, VB08 took place at P.S.1 in Long Island City, NY.
More recently, in VB39, 1999 and in VB42, 2000 the artist explored the possibilities of fully male performances with the U.S. Navy in San Diego, CA and with the U.S. Silent Service at the Intrepid in New York, 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 Sao Paulo Bienal, Brazil in 2002; VB52, part of a retrospective show, at the Castello di Rivoli in 2003; VB54 at Terminal 5 of JFK Airport New York in 2004, a performance banned by the authorities.