Born in The Bronx, New York, Vito Acconci began his career in the late 1960’s as a poet. He received his BA in literature from the College of the Holy Cross and his MFA in literature and poetry from the University of Iowa. Acconci’s artistic career evolved over the years beyond poetry to encompass photography, film and video, sound, and performance.
In the 1970s Acconci began experimenting with installation and performance art. Many of his earlier works portray his explorations of movement in space. His own body served as the subject matter for many of these works. In 1971, art critic Cindy Nemser suggested the prominence of narcissistic motivations in Acconci’s art. In addition to the use of his own body, Nemser pointed to the narcissistic elements of video versus art object.
In the following decades, Acconci shifted his artistic practices from video and performance towards permanent sculpture and installation. Interested in design and construction, he began to create works of monumental size. These works often promoted public participation, as they were intended to be physically entered or sat upon. He built furniture, houses, and gardens that served as both permanent and temporary installations. Acconci’s works often blured the line between public and private, indoor and outdoor space.
Acconci held his first solo show at the Rhode Island School of Design in Provenance, Rhode Island in 1969. Since then, retrospectives of his work have been held by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Illinois; and the Gallery of Art at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Missouri. Acconci currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.