Tony Oursler
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Acclaimed as one of the pioneers of video art, American artist Tony Oursler (New York, 1957) is well known for his highly sculptural and performative audiovisual objects. He experiments with moving-image technologies and stages them in environments full of animated characters that address spectators directly. This dialectic urge is at the heart of his work, driving a psychologically dense drama that forces us to confront questions of identity and social criticism. After taking a BFA at the California Institute of Arts (CalArts) in the 1970s, he started to make a name for himself in the world of contemporary art in the following decade. His work has always kept pace with the latest advances in technology in the digital age, while also forging close ties between longstanding art forms, such as puppets and light effects, and innovative audiovisual and multimedia devices. Oursler has a keen interest in combining diametrically opposed worlds such as scientific knowledge and spiritualism, in a play of contrasts in which projections, monitors and other optical appliances connect us to occult, mystical or paranormal phenomena, often with a sharp sense of humour. He probes the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds, creating an absorbing, cacophonic narrative that questions the human condition in both real life and cyberspace. In parallel to his art work, he has also made forays into the music scene, always with an experimental spirit. He was a member of punk band The Poetics, set up by Mike Kelley and active between 1977 and 1983. In 2013, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris put on The Poetics Project, an exhibition that examined the conventions of documentary video by looking back over the band’s brief career. Tony Oursler’s work has been exhibited at museums and art centres worldwide, including MoMA, New York (2016); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2014); the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2013); and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2005). He took part in Documenta, Kassel, in 1987 and 1992, and his pieces form part of collections at major museums, such as MoMA, New York; the Tate, London; the National Museum of Art, Osaka; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.

Artworks by the artist included in the Collection Artworks by the artist included in the Collection

  • L7 - L5