Bill ViolaAblutions
Lot Closed

Bill Viola


Estimate: 60,000 - 80,000 GBP

Bill Viola


Estimate: 60,000 - 80,000 GBP
Lot sold:81,900GBP
(2 bids, reserve met)


Bill Viola

b. 1951


colour video diptych on two plasma displays 

101.5 by 122 by 10.8 cm. 40¼ by 48¼ by 4¼ in.

Executed in 2005, this work is number 2 from an edition of 7, plus 1 artist's proof.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Condition report


Please note the colours in the online catalogue illustration may vary depending on screen settings


This work is in very good condition and full working order. 

Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.


James Cohen, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner


New York, James Cohen, Bill Viola, November - December 2005 (ed. no. unknown)
Bern, Kunstmuseum Bern and Cathedral of Bern, Bill Viola: Passions, April - July 2014 (ed. no. unknown)
Uppsala, Uppsala Cathedral, Bill Viola, Visitation Reformation, September - November 2017 (ed. no. unknown)
Philadelphia, Barnes Foundation, I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola, June - September 2019 (ed. no. unknown)

Catalogue note

Ablutions, forms one of the seven parts of Viola’s Purification series. The series records the ritual preparations undertaken by a man and woman before their symbolic rebirth. Purification consists of seven adjoining image sequences across a time span of fifty minutes. The individual sections are: ‘The Approach’, ‘The Arrival’, ‘The Disrobing’, ‘Ablutions’, ‘Basin of Tears’, ‘The Dowsing’, and ‘Dissolution’. Ablutions, records the couple simultaneously washing their hands in two streams of clear water. The ritual repetitiveness of the couple’s actions creates a fascinating double viewpoint – we are transfixed by the movements of the individuals in the present moment and by the suggestion of larger shifts reflecting the stages of human life. The measured pace of the video, the large yet intimate size and the removal of sound all create for the viewer a transcendental space. We are made acutely aware of the movement of time.