Tony Oursler

Year of birth, place
1957, New York, United States
Role at the ZKM
in the collection

Tony Oursler initially studied at the Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York State, completing a BA in Fine Arts at the California Institute for the Arts, Valencia in 1979. He currently teaches at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, and lives in Boston.

Starting as a painter, Oursler began to make videos in 1975, himself producing the stage sets for these. In the mid-1980s he started to make video sculptures. In the course of his endeavours to loosen the image from the canvas, he developed a technique for projecting images on to objects with the help of small video projectors. In 1989 he started exhibiting dummies and dolls, made of pieces of clothing. Instead of a face, these had a monitor or a white cushion. In the video installations incorporating these figures, a speaking, or sometimes merely whining, human face was projected on to the cushion. In preparing these videos, Oursler worked with various actors, above all with Tracy Leipold, as also with amateur actors. He also projected images of figures, faces and body parts on to other objects. A further series of works, »Poisoned Candies«, took the form of objects to be displayed as a form of a wall sculpture - greatly enlarged packing cases for chewing gum, sweets and drinks - as well as pen and watercolour drawings of packaging for products of the photographic, pharmaceutical and luxury foods industries. Here Oursler sought to address the themes of human wishes, dreams and anxieties, and the influence of the mass media on the human psyche. 

​Individual exhibitions (selection)
1981 University Art Museum, Berkeley; »Video Viewpoints«, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
1982 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; »Complete Works«, The Kitchen Center for Music, Video and Dance, New York
1986 »Sphères d'influence«, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1988 »Tony Oursler's Work«, Le Lieu, Québec
1991 »Dummies, Hex Signs, Watercolours«, The Living Room, San Francisco
1993 »White Trash and Phobie«, Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva, subsequently at Kunstwerke, Berlin
1994 »System for Dramatic Feedback«, Portikus, Frankfurt/M, subsequently at Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva
1995 »Tony Oursler: Video Installations, Objects, Watercolors«, Musée d'Art Moderne, Strasbourg, subsequently at Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
1997 »Judy«, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
Group exhibitions (selection)
1984 »Het Lumineuze Beeld«, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1987 »L'époque, la mode, la morale, la passion«, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; »Aspects of media: Video«, Department of Video/Art Advisory Service of the Museum of Modern Art for Johnson & Johnson, New York; documenta VIII, Kassel
1988 »BiNationale«, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Kunsthalle Bremen, Stuttgart
1989 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; »Video-Skulptur retrospektiv und aktuell 1963-89«, Kunstverein, Cologne, subsequently at Kongresshalle Berlin; Kunsthaus Zürich
1992 documenta IX, Kassel
1993 3. International Biennale in Nagoya - Artec '93, Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya
1995 3. Biennale de Lyon, Lyon
1996 »Matthew Barney, Tony Oursler, Jeff Wall«, Sammlung Goetz, Munich; »Sex and Crime«, Sprengel Museum Hannover
1997 »Anatomy of Space/Time«, Kobe Fashion Museum, Kobe; »The Digital Video Wall«, Rockefeller Center, New York; »Scream and Scream Again«, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; documenta X, Kassel; »Skulptur. Projekte in Münster 1997«, Münster

[Konstanze Thümmel, 1997]