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b. 1971, Brescia, Italy
Francesco Vezzoli was born in 1971 in Brescia, Italy. He received a BFA from the Central Saint Martins School of Art in London in 1995. Vezzoli first employed embroidery, a distinctly outdated artistic medium, as a reaction against the London art scene of the mid-1990s that contextualized his education. In his early works from 1994 to 1996, Vezzoli reenvisioned twentieth-century masterpieces by Mark Rothko and Josef Albers as modest-sized hand stitched petit point embroideries. Upon his return to Italy, Vezzoli created his first series of films entitled An Embroidered Trilogy (1997–99), in which the artist cast himself as the inert embroiderer who remains indifferent to the emotive melodramas performed around him by famous divas. In 1999 Vezzoli began to create his signature canvases with laser-print images of iconic actresses, models, and singers, onto which the artist embroidered metallic threads to form tears or blood.
Through his embroidery, film, and performance over the following years, Vezzoli engaged with the cult of fame through figures like Marisa Berenson, the model Veruschka, and Bianca Jagger, incorporating references from the artistic intelligentsia and popular culture to outright kitsch. The film Non-Love Meetings (2004) from the series Trilogy of Death (2004) presents a game show in which contestants display their talents in hopes of winning the love of such celebrities as Catherine Deneuve. Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal's “Caligula” (2005) offers a decadent trailer for a nonexistent remake of the 1970s film Caligula. In the faux-autobiographic film Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story! (2006), Vezzoli imagines his own downfall catalyzed by his obsession with icons, fame, and Hollywood. Democrazy (2007), a double projection of two mock campaign videos starring Sharon Stone and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy as presidential candidates, responded to the role performance and spectacle played in the 2008 American elections. In 2007 Vezzoli staged Luigi Pirandello's Right You Are (If You Think You Are) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 2009 spectacle, consumerism, and art met again when Vezzoli staged a fake fragrance launch at Gagosian Gallery, complete with a manufactured bottle, a series of embroideries of famous female artists, and a commercial starring Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams and directed by Roman Polanski.
Solo exhibitions of Vezzoli's work have been organized by the Centre d'Art Contemporain in Ginevra (1999), Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea (2002), New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (2002), Fondazione Prada in Milan (2004), Tate Modern in London (2006), and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2007). His work has also been included in major group exhibitions like the Istanbul Bienali (1999), Liverpool Biennial (2002), São Paulo Bienal (2004), Venice Biennale (2005 and 2007), Whitney Biennial (2006), and Performa 07. He currently lives and works in Milan.