Video and performance artist Francesco Vezzoli tests the boundaries between consumer entertainment and the fine arts with artworks that include unconventional collaborations with celebrities and rock stars. Vezzoli was born in Brescia, Italy and studied art at the Central Saint Martins School of Art in London. Much of his work has been a conceptual exploration of the relationship of hype and adoration with subjects like US presidential candidates, the Roman tyrant Caligula, and the theatricality of pop stars. One of Vezzoli’s best known works (which had screenings at the 2005 Venice Biennale and the 2006 Whitney Biennial), is “Trailer for the Remake of Gore Vidal’s ‘Caligula.’” The parodic short includes stars of the original movie Caligula (1979), such as Helen Mirren, as well as younger ones such as Milla Jovovich, Benicio del Toro, and Courtney Love. It is constructed as a film trailer for a recreation of the classic tale of carnal and political corruption, but one that sensationalizes an already excessive movie, using over-the-top narration and sexual enticements. Vezzoli’s short leads the viewer to question how history, art, and narrative are marketed.
Live performances of Vezzoli’s work have been staged at the Guggenheim and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He has had major museum exhibitions of his videos and prints at the Tate, the Vienna Kunsthalle, the New Museum, and Fondazione Prada, among others.