2.0 Renaissance on show in London

Bill Viola, “Fire Angel”, panel 3 from Five Angels for the Millennium, 2001
Video/sound installation
Performer: Josh Coxx
Courtesy Bill Viola Studio
Photo: Kira Perov
Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with Royal Collection Trust and with the collaboration of Bill Viola Studio

In January 2019, the Royal Academy of Arts will bring together the work of the pioneering video artist Bill Viola (b. 1951), with drawings by Michelangelo (1475 -1564). Though working five centuries apart and in radically different media, these artists share a deep preoccupation with the nature of human experience and existence. Bill Viola / Michelangelo will create an artistic exchange between these two artists and will be a unique opportunity to see major works from Viola’s long career and some of the greatest drawings by Michelangelo, together for the first time.

Bill Viola, Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall), 2005
Video/sound installation
Performer: John Hay
Courtesy Bill Viola Studio
Photo: Kira Perov

The exhibition will comprise 12 major video installations by Viola, from 1977 to 2013, to be shown alongside 15 works by Michelangelo. They include 14 highly finished drawings, considered to be the high point of Renaissance drawing, as well as the Royal Academy’s ‘Taddei Tondo’. It will propose a dialogue between the two artists, considering Viola as an heir to a long tradition of spiritual and affective art, which makes use of emotion as a means of connecting viewers with its subject matter.
It also aims to recapture the spiritual and emotional core of Michelangelo, beyond the awesome grandeur of his  works.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John, c.1504-05
Marble relief, 107 x 107 x 22 cm
Royal Academy of Arts, London. Bequeathed by Sir George Beaumont, 1830
© Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: Prudence Cuming Associates Limited

Rather than setting up direct comparisons between the artists or suggesting that Michelangelo has been an instrumental influence on Viola’s work, the exhibition will examine the affinities between them, bringing together specific works to explore resonances in their treatment of the fundamental questions: the nature of being, the transience of life, and the search for a greater meaning beyond mortality.
The exhibition is conceived as an immersive journey through the cycles of life, exploring the transience and tumult of existence and the possibility of rebirth. It will begin and end with a pairing of works that reflect on a central paradox: the presence of death in life.
For further information, visit the following website.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Virgin and Child, c. 1540-45
Black chalk over red chalk, silhouetted by a later hand, 22.5 x 19.4 cm
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with Royal Collection Trust and with the collaboration of Bill Viola Studio
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Three Labours of Hercules, c. 1530
Red chalk, 27.2 x 42.2 cm
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with Royal Collection Trust and with the collaboration of Bill Viola Studio