About this artwork
Vanessa Beecroft stages tableaux vivants of nude or seminude women, whom she arranges in loose configurations according to predetermined rules. Her works center on these public performances but often culminate in photographs or videos. Beecroft blurs the boundary between art and fashion to the point that, in recent years, eminent designers have provided the attire for her models. Adopting the fashion industry’s use of sex as a sales tool and openly presenting women as a silent visual spectacle, she engages with structures of power and economies of desire while provocatively toying with cultural expectations of female sexuality.
In Piano Americano, two women in beige trench coats sit decorously in chairs, facing the camera, while to their left a woman in a bright green party dress sprawls on the floor. Behind them, nine women in flesh-colored underwear mill around, looking aloof or bored, occasionally squatting down or running their hands along the wall. Over the course of half an hour, the camera slowly pans across the different groupings of women. Eventually it begins to zoom in on their faces and their bodies, both enacting and eliciting the viewer’s lingering gaze. Beecroft’s work partakes in the voyeuristic dynamics of sexual consumerism with a degree of self-conscious complicity, but she also denaturalizes these patterns and invites the viewer’s discomfort. Beecroft has said, “I like to display nudity to provoke the fear or embarrassment or the confusion of the audience.” Poised between eroticism and cool, structured formalism, her living displays are suggestive but emotionally vacant, demonstrating an aloof yet potentially aggressive sexuality.
- Currently Off View
- Contemporary Art
- Vanessa Beecroft
- Piano Americano
- United States
- Made 1996
- Color video, sound (projection); 30 min. loop Edition number six of eight
- Gift of Donna and Howard Stone