Tony Oursler (b. 1957, New York; lives and works in New York) is best known for his innovative integration of video, sculpture, and performance. While studying at the California Institute of Arts, Oursler was influenced by John Baldessari, who taught him, Mike Kelley, John Miller, and Jim Shaw the importance of the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language. A pioneering figure in new media since the 1970s, Oursler has since explored diverse methods of incorporating video into his practice, breaking video art out of the two-dimensional screen to create moving three-dimensional environments with the use of projections. At the center of Oursler’s practice is a persisting preoccupation with technology and its effect on humanity, and in his immersive installations he presents a dissonance of moving image and sound that seeks to disorient and disarm viewers. His videos often take as their subject the human face, fragmenting and distorting its physiognomy, and thus the legibility of expression, by projecting it onto inanimate objects or embedding it into his sculptures. With these video-sculptures Oursler explores the role that the rapid growth of technology plays in altering, and often inhibiting, human social behavior.
Oursler received a B.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts in 1979. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (2021); Musée d’arts de Nantes, Nantes, France (2020); Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY (2019); Public Art Fund, Riverside Park South, NY (2018); Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, Italy (2017); CaixaForum Madrid, Spain (2017); The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2016); LUMA Foundation, Arles, France (2015); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2014); Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2013); Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil (2013); Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, Ukraine (2013); Art Sonje Center, Seoul, South Korea (2012); ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark (2012); and Jeu de Paume, Paris, France, traveling to the DA2 Domus Artium, Salamanca, Spain, and the Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen, Denmark (2005). Select group exhibitions featuring his work include On Everyone’s Lips: From Pieter Bruegel to Cindy Sherman, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany (2020); Noire Lumière, HOW Museum, Shanghai, China (2020); Just Connect, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (2020); Trees, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France (2019); Almost Human: Digital Art from the Permanent Collection, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA (2019); Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy, Met Breuer, New York, NY (2018); David Bowie Is, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY (2018); Before Projection: Video Sculpture 1974-1995, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA (2018); Creature, The Broad, Los Angeles, CA (2016); America Is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2015); Disembodied, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (2013); Mike Kelley, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2013); The Royal Family, Hayward Gallery Project Space, London, United Kingdom (2012); Off the Wall: Part 1—Thirty Performative Actions, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2010); Spazio: The Scene and the Imaginary, Museo Nazionale delle arti del XXI Secolo, Rome, Italy (2010); Looking at Music, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2008); and California Video, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2008).
Oursler’s work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark; Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA; CAPC Musée d'art Contemporain de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, Montréal, Canada; Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon, France; Museu d'Art Contemporani, Barcelona, Spain; Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; National Museum of Osaka, Osaka, Japan; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK; Saatchi Collection, London, United Kingdom; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA.
In 2000, Oursler was awarded the U.S. Art Critics Association ICA New Media Award.