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b. 1959, Belgium

Francis Alÿs Biography

Trained as an architect, Francis Alÿs has constantly teased the political from the poetic gesture, and turned failure into a language. The medium of walking as art practice stems from the Situationist practice of derive, and Alÿs has used this process to draw out larger questions of spatial and ideological boundaries. The Green Line, 2007, saw him walk the boundary between Israel and Palestine, a literal enacting of territorial division. Other works have seen him chasing tornadoes, shifting mountains and pushing a block of ice around until it melted into nothing. 

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Alÿs is one of the most influential performance artists of today, and has held solo exhibitions at MoMA, New York, 2011; the Tate Modern, London, 2010; Wiels, Brussels, 2010; Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, 2004; and the Museo Reina Sophia, Madrid, 2002. He has also participated in the Venice Biennale, 2007, 2001, 1999; the Sao Paulo Bienial, 2010, 1998; and Documenta 13, 2012.


Francis Alÿs Featured Artworks

Untitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River) by Francis Alÿs contemporary artwork
Francis AlÿsUntitled (Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River), 2006–2008Drawing: Oil, staples, graphite on vellum; Painting: Oil, encaustic on canvas on wood
11 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches
David Zwirner Contact Gallery

Francis Alÿs Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, 20/20 at David Zwirner, 20th Street, New York
Open Now
29 October–19 December 2020 Group Exhibition 20/20 David Zwirner20th Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, UNIQUE at Parkett, Zurich Exhibition Space
Open Now
12 September–18 December 2020 Group Exhibition UNIQUE ParkettZurich Exhibition Space
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, At Sea Online Viewing Room at David Zwirner, Online Only, New York
Closed
24 July–30 August 2020 Group Exhibition At Sea Online Viewing Room David ZwirnerOnline Only

Francis Alÿs Represented By

David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in 19th Street, New York, USA David Zwirner New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong

Francis Alÿs In Ocula Magazine

RoseLee Goldberg: Performance Then and Now Ocula Conversation RoseLee Goldberg: Performance Then and Now By Fawz Kabra

RoseLee Goldberg had long been invested in contemporary performance art before her founding of the inter-disciplinary arts organisation Performa in New York in 2004. Born in Durban, South Africa, Goldberg studied political science and fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and then art history at the Courtauld...

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TarraWarra International 2019: Tracing Tangible Shadows Ocula Feature TarraWarra International 2019: Tracing Tangible Shadows By Natalie King, Melbourne

Everyone I encounter along my journey asks: 'Where are you based?' 'On my feet,' I answer. 'Where are your feet based then?' 'Feet are never based,' I say. This haunting voiceover from Hiwa K 's video, Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue) (2017), follows the artist retracing a journey that he made when he was 25 years old, fleeing Iraq...

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Shanghai Art Exhibitions to See: The Lowdown Ocula Feature Shanghai Art Exhibitions to See: The Lowdown By Sam Gaskin

There is no official Shanghai Art Week, but the term has nevertheless entered the lexicon of the city's contemporary art community. It's especially apt this year, with the firmly established West Bund Art Fair (8–11 November 2018) and Art021 (9–11 November 2018) taking place the same week that the 12th Shanghai Biennale opens at the Power Station...

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Gwangju Biennale: Imagined Borders Ocula Feature Gwangju Biennale: Imagined Borders By Tessa Moldan, Gwangju

'I have felt persecuted for weeks by this same asphyxiating dream.' So narrates the forlorn Portuguese speaker in Kiluanji Kia Henda's film, Concrete Affection – Zopo Lady (2014), as city scenes and modernist buildings in Luanda flit past the camera's lens. The narration is pulled from Another Day of Life (1971), Polish writer Ryszard...

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Francis Alÿs In Related Press

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10 Highlights from the inaugural Kathmandu Triennale 2017 Related Press 10 Highlights from the inaugural Kathmandu Triennale 2017 10 April 2017, Art Radar Journal

The Kathmandu Triennale is an event developed on the back of past success of the Kathmandu International Art Festival, held in 2009 and 2012. The inaugural edition of Kathmandu Triennale (KT 2017) takes ‘The City’ as a thematic starting point – a catalyst to explore the many socio-cultural and political issues embedded in urban settings. Francis...

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Francis Alÿs to create new work inspired by his frontline experiences in Mosul Related Press Francis Alÿs to create new work inspired by his frontline experiences in Mosul 7 December 2016, The Art Newspaper

The Belgian artist Francis Alÿs will create a new work for the Iraqi pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale next year (13 May-26 November 2017) based on his recent experiences spent on the frontline in Mosul, northern Iraq, as part of the ongoing military offensive against Islamic state (Isil) militants. The piece was commissioned by the Ruya...

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Francis Alÿs at David Zwirner, London Related Press Francis Alÿs at David Zwirner, London 1 December 2016, Art in America

'When the operative system of a society collapses, can art bring about an alternative way of thinking... ?' Francis Alÿs wrote this question on a notebook page reproduced in the brochure accompanying Ciudad Juárez Projects, his powerful exhibition at David Zwirner in London. For the works on view, Alÿs brought his poetic sensibility to...

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Here are the artists in the 2016 Taipei Biennial Related Press Here are the artists in the 2016 Taipei Biennial 8 July 2016, ARTNews

The Taipei Fine Arts Museum has announced the artists tapped for their 2016 Taipei Biennial, which takes place from September 10 this year through February 5 of 2017. Now in its tenth edition, the biennial this year takes on themes related to artistic and curatorial practices, and as per press release, 'embraces the catalytic role of museums in...

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