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Art & Art History

Vito Acconci: A Graphic Retrospective, 1971–1992

Monday, August 22, 1994–Saturday, October 01, 1994

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Vito Acconci: A Graphic Retrospective, 1971–1992 represents a complete survey of the graphic oeuvre of Vito Acconci from 1971 to 1992. It presents chronologically Acconci’s diverse artistic concerns.

Acconci evolved from poet to performance artist to sculptor. His prints have also paralleled this transition and development. While his early works question the conventions of printmaking, his later works challenge the very nature of the medium itself. In Trademarks (1970) Acconci inked up marks on his body to make a print, whereas in Wings for Wall and Person (1979–81) the viewer participates by standing between an expanse of twelve etchings, linking together a pair of antique airplane wings.

Acconci’s performance and body art from the early 1970s is depicted in the lithographs Kiss Off, Trade Marks, and Touchstone (for J. L), which were printed at Nova Scotia Press. His interest in architecture was explored in the prints Stone for a Wall, Building Blocks for a Doorway, Big Brick, and Fold Out House. The artist’s more recent concerns for social spaces and public sculpture are examined in 3 Flags for 1 Space and 6 Regions, Wav(er)ing Flag, and the Name Calling Chair. The twenty-four works in the exhibition are innovative both conceptually and in their dynamic use of materials.


Vito Acconci: A Graphic Retrospective, 1971–1992 is made possible by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design’s College of Architecture, Art, and Urban Planning, and supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. 


Vito Acconci

2 Wings for Wall and Person, 1979–81
Photoetching on twelve sheets of paper, printed in pink, each panel 26 1/2 x 41 in.

20 Foot Ladder for Any Size Wall,
Photoetching on eight sheets of paper, printed in gray, 244 x 43 in.

Big Brick, 1984
Etching, aquatint, embossing (on six sheets), (2): 10 5/8 x 15 3/8 in.; (2): 25 x 15 3/8 in.; (2): 35 x 15 3/8 in.

Bite the Bullet: Slow Guns for Quick Sale (To Be Etched on Your American Mind), 1977
Photoetching, 30 x 42 in.

Blow-Up Baby Doll Face, 1993
Screenprint on Sintra and mirror-backed Plexiglas, available in two configurations: 24 triangles to create an 8 ft. hexagon (edition of 10), 6 triangles creating a 4 ft. hexagon (edition of 20)

Building Blocks for a Doorway, 1983
Etching with embossing in two parts, each 97 7/8 x 23 1/2 in.

Crash, 1985
Photointaglio, aquatint, relief, and shaped embossing in two parts, each 19 1/2 x 25 in.

Face Flag, 1984
Lithograph in three parts, each 16 x 30 in.

Flag Full of Holes, 1988
Fabric, 112 x 70 in.

Fold-Out House, 1987
Etching and embossing in nine parts, (3): 16 3/4 x 22 in.; (6): 16 3/4 x 28 in.

The Fragmented Figure (The Broken Father), 1986
Etching and aquatint, 47 x 31 in.

I Love New York, New York Loves Me, 1987
Lithograph and collage, 25 3/4 x 20 1/4 in.

Kiss Off, 1971
Lithograph in black and red, 30 x 22 in.

Name Calling Chair, 1990
Cherry, ebony, and birch veneer plywood, 48 x 38 x 48 in.

Red Mask, People Mask, End Mask, 1983
A suite of three etchings with embossing, 8 5/8 x 8 5/8 in.

The Selling of Five Americans (and a Place for One World Citizen)
, 1977
Color photoetching on stonehenge gray paper, 30 x 42 in.

Slide/Screen, 1976
Silkscreen diptych, each 15 1/2 x 29 3/4 in. 

Stones for a Wall, 1979
Portfolio of ten lithographs, each 30 x 23 1/4 in.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, plate VII from The Ten Commandments Suite, 1987
Lithograph and collage, 23 1/4 x 18 in.

Three Flags for 1 Space and 6 Regions, 1979–81
Photoetching and aquatint in six parts, each 24 x 32 in.

Touchstone (for J. L.), 1972
Lithography, ink, and paper, 30 x 22 in.

Trademarks, 1970
Lithograph, 30 x 22 in.

Wav(er)ing Flag (6 panels), 1990
Lithographs, each 18 x 24 in.

Why Don’t You Come Up and See Me Sometime? Or Sex for Sale,
Photoetching, 30 x 42 in.


Postcard: Vito Acconci: A Graphic Retrospective, 1971–1992


Acconci Head ShotVito Acconci was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1940. His influential, provocative, and often radical art-making practices have earned him international recognition. Acconci has been a vital presence in contemporary art since the late 1960s; his confrontational and ultimately political works have evolved from writing through conceptual art, bodyworks, performance, film, video, multimedia installation, and architectural sculpture. Since the late 1980s he has focused on architecture and design projects. Acconci began his career as a poet, editing 0 TO 9 with Bernadette Mayer in the late 1960s. Acconci quickly transformed himself into a performance and video artist, using his own body as a subject. His performance and video work is marked heavily by confrontation, a focus on the body and sexual power dynamics, and the influence of Situationism. In the mid-1970s, Acconci expanded his metier into the world of audio/visual installations. One infamous installation/performance piece from this period is Seedbed (January 15–29, 1971), in which Acconci lay hidden underneath a gallery-wide ramp installed at the Sonnabend Gallery, masturbating while vocalizing into a loudspeaker his fantasies about the visitors walking above him on the ramp. 

Acconci’s work has been widely shown internationally, in one-person exhibitions at the Sonnabend Gallery, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, among many others. In 1987 a major retrospective of his work, entitled Vito Acconci: Domestic Trappings, originated at La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art in California and traveled to sites throughout the United States. His work has also been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Documenta 5, 6, and 7, Kassel, Germany; several Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial Exhibitions, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Kunstverein and Kunsthaus, Hamburg, Germany. In addition to original fiction and poetry, Acconci has written critical pieces for catalogues and publications including New Observations, October, and Artforum. Among his numerous awards are grants from the American Academy in Rome; Berlin Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst; Guggenheim Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at many institutions, including the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax; California Institute of the Arts, Valencia; Cooper Union; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Yale University; and Parsons School of Design. 

Acconci Studio’s architectural projects have included the United Bamboo Store, Tokyo, Japan; the Schacter Gallery, New York; and the artificial Mur Island, Graz, Austria, among others. Acconci lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received a BA from Holy Cross College and an MFA from the University of Iowa.