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I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola

June 30 – September 15, 2019

About the Exhibition

American artist Bill Viola (b. 1951) is celebrated for his genre-defying, mind-expanding work in new media. He is a visionary artist whose installations feature moving images that invite meditations on birth, death, and spiritual themes as well as the nature of human consciousness.

This special exhibition, organized for the Barnes by distinguished guest curator John G. Hanhardt, will bring together a selection of the artist’s major pieces from 1976 to 2009, including smaller screen-based works and the rarely seen large-scale installations He Weeps for You, Pneuma, and Ascension.

Exhibition Highlights


Ablutions, 2005. Color video diptych

Pneuma, 1994/2009. Video/sound installation

Exhibition Catalogue

The Art of Bill Viola


John G. Hanhardt offers an in-depth look at Bill Viola’s exceptional career and explores the underlying spirituality that has informed his approach to the moving image. With essays by Thomas A. Carlson and Kira Perov.

Hardcover, 176 pages including text and video stills.


This exhibition is sponsored by

Generous support for this exhibition comes from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and Aileen and Brian Roberts.

Critical support for all exhibitions comes from contributors to the Barnes Foundation Exhibition Fund:

Joan Carter and John Aglialoro • Julia and David Fleischner • Leigh and John Middleton • Jeanette and Joe Neubauer

John Alchin and Hal Marryatt, Christine and Michael Angelakis, Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, Lois and Julian Brodsky, N. Judith Broudy, Laura and Bill Buck, Gloria and John Drosdick, Eugene and Michelle Dubay, Lisa D. Kabnick and John H. McFadden, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, Victoria McNeil Le Vine, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation, Hilarie and Mitchell Morgan, Kay and Michael Park, The Rittenhouse Hotel, Adele K. Schaeffer, Katie and Tony Schaeffer, Dr. and Mrs. Eugene E. Stark, Joan F. Thalheimer, van Beuren Charitable Foundation, Kirsten White, A. Morris Williams, Jr., Michele Plante and Robert N. Wilson, Anonymous.

The exhibition catalogue is made possible with generous support provided by the Lois and Julian Brodsky Publications Fund.