Bill Viola / Michelangelo
Life Death Rebirth
26 January - 31 March 2019
Main Galleries, Burlington House, Piccadilly
Daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm
£20 (without donation £18). Concessions available. Under-16s go free with a fee-paying adult. Free for Friends of the RA with no booking required.
Friends of the RA go free
This exhibition pairs Bill Viola’s powerful installations with rarely-seen drawings by Michelangelo. Journey through the cycle of life in our immersive and unparalleled show.
Michelangelo is best known for the Sistine Chapel and for his large sculptures. Yet his smaller, more intimate drawings take us closer to the spiritual and emotional power of his work. They were created for his private use, or as gifts of love, and would soon become known as “drawings the likes of which was never seen”.
In 2006, the pioneering video artist Bill Viola saw a collection of these works at Windsor Castle. He was moved by their ability to convey fundamental human experiences and emotions, and by Michelangelo’s use of the body to give shape to spirituality.
Viola's large-scale video installations are likewise works of profound emotional impact. They combine sound and moving image to create absorbing works which slow us down and invite us to experience and reflect. These works are shown alongside Michelangelo drawings, which are on display in the UK for the first time in almost a decade.
This exhibition – created in close collaboration with Bill Viola Studio – is a unique opportunity to experience two artists, born centuries apart, in a new light.
All ticket prices include £2.50 for a printed gallery guide.
Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with Royal Collection Trust and with the collaboration of Bill Viola Studio.
Please note Some works in this exhibition have flashing lights, and others contain nudity. Please ask a member of staff for more information.
Exhibition organised in partnership with
Supported by the Genesis Foundation, with grateful thanks to John Studzinski CBE.
"Heavyweights past and present battle mortality at the Royal Academy"
"An early contender for exhibition of the year"
"Bill Viola is one of the few living figures who could square up to Michelangelo"
The Sunday Telegraph
"The work is a reminder that our inner worlds may be timeless but our outer ones are always changing"
Become a Friend to see for free
RA homepage and page header video montage image credits
All works by Bill Viola courtesy Bill Viola Studio:
Five Angels for the Millennium, 2001. Video/sound installation. Performer: Josh Coxx
The Sleep of Reason, 1988. Video/sound installation. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Purchased with funds provided by Milton Fine and the A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund, 88.33
Slowly Turning Narrative, 1992. Video/sound installation
The Dreamers, 2013. Video/sound installation. Performers: Gleb Kaminer, Rebekah Rife, Mark Ofugi, Madison Corn, Sharon Ferguson, Christian Vincent, Katherine McKalip
Nantes Triptych, 1992. Video/sound installation
Fire Woman, 2005. Video/sound installation. Performer: Robin Bonaccorsi
Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John, c.1504-05. Marble relief, diameter 106.8 cm.
Royal Academy of Arts, London. Bequeathed by Sir George Beaumont, 1830
Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Fall of Phaethon, 1533. Black chalk, 41.3 x 23.4 cm.
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019