Lot 11
  • 11

Bill Viola

250,000 - 350,000 USD
266,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Bill Viola
  • The Last Angel
  • DVD, 50" plasma screen and speakers


James Cohan Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2002


Culiacan, Museo de Arte de Sinaloa (MASIN), Las Implicacciones de la Imagen, March 2006
Moviken, Sweden, The Old Foundry, Moviken Art 2007, June - August 2007 (another example)
Monterrey, Forum Universal de las Culturas; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Entrada al Presente: Obras Maestras del Museo de Arte de Ponce, October 2007 - January 2008
Mexico City, Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte (MUCA) de la UNAM, Las Implicacciones de la Imagen, April 2008, cat. no. 123, p. 227, illustrated in color
Utrecht, Museum Catharikneconvent, All Kinds of Angels, January - February 2009 (another example)


Exh. Cat., Seoul, Kukje Gallery, Bill Viola, 2003, n.p., illustrated in color (another example)

Catalogue Note

Bill Viola transforms the seemingly straightforward medium of video into a complex and unexpected experience for the viewer. The Last Angel deals with themes common to Viola's oeuvre; birth, death, heaven, earth, water and Christianity presented in slow motion to amplify the ambience and the viewer's sense of immersion in the work.  There is an unsettling and yet seductive power to the sights and sounds in Viola's work.  The aesthetic possibilities of the medium force the viewer to call on a variety of senses to participate with the object's aqueous landscape and to understand the symbolic journey of the body transitioning mysteriously through different worlds.  The seclusion of the viewing experience – the darkened room and compelling sounds – challenges us to a more reflective contemplation. As Viola commented, ``The most important place where my work exists is not in the museum gallery, or in the screening room, or on the television, and not even on the video screen itself, but in the mind of the viewer who has seen it." (Robert Violette and Bill Viola, eds., Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House: Writings 1973 – 1994, London, 1995, p. 173)

The Last Angel is closely related to Viola's seminal work from 2001, Five Angels for the Millenium.  Both works focus on angels as the link between heaven and earth, as well as the important element of water that is a consistent theme for the artist.  For Viola, water can be seen as a symbol for the body's journey between the two worlds, and his interest can be traced to a childhood experience when he almost drowned.  Viola remembers this experience as peaceful more than traumatic and uses this inspiration to combine the personal with the universal.  Water has the dual ability to give life and to take life away and Viola turns this into a metaphor for transformation and transcendence of human existence.