Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: video art
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Type of modern art created by visual artists using video and television equipment; it is a medium rather than a style. The equipment (medium) can be used in any of various ways, for example in installations or as part of performance art. Thus video art often overlaps with other forms of avant-garde expression.

The German artist Wolf Vostell (1932–1998) used television sets as part of sculptural assemblages as early as 1959, but the creator of video art is usually thought to be the Korean-born artist Nam June Paik (1932–2006), who trained as a musician and has also worked as a sculptor and performance artist. He moved to New York in 1964 and bought a portable video recorder the following year, at a time when such equipment was still a novelty; he is said to have made and showed his first work of video art on the very day he bought the camera. Paik's work usually sets out to entertain; a well-known example is Bra for Living Sculpture (1969), in which a female cellist plays her instrument while wearing a bra that incorporated two small television screens (nicknamed ‘boob tubes’). Other exponents of video art are much more serious; the work of the US artist Bill Viola (1951– ), for example, includes To Pray Without Ceasing (1992), a 12-hour sequence of images that he describes as ‘a cycle of individual and universal life’.

Many critics find such work tedious and pretentious, but video art has made a substantial impression in the world of avant-garde art. In 1996 and 1997 the Turner Prize, Britain's most famous art award, was won by exponents of video art: first Douglas Gordon (1967– ), then Gillian Wearing (1963– ).


Empire Online

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article video art
The Bloomsbury Guide to Art

Video is a medium like oil painting or photography, and like them has been employed by artists in a wide variety of ways. With the advent of...

See more from Credo