The Paradox of Stillness: Art, Object, and Performance
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The Paradox of Stillness: Art, Object, and Performance

Through works that bring together objects, movement, or the living body, The Paradox of Stillness explores the intersections between performance and visual art. The exhibition features some 100 artworks by successive generations of artists who test the boundaries between stillness and motion, mortality and time.

Stillness and permanence are common qualities of painting and sculpture. Consider, for example, the frozen gestures of a historical tableau, the timelessness of a still life painting, or the unyielding bronze or marble figure. Translating these traditional mediums into actions, artists use performance to investigate the interplay between the fixed image and the live body.

An evolving exhibition, The Paradox of Stillness includes up to 15 live performances in the galleries or public spaces. As the presentation unfolds, visitors encounter the unexpected as the galleries gradually become more active. Puppets and automatons dance through space. Mechanized sculptures subtly transform, while paintings and sculptures alike are activated by performers. Organic materials melt and decay, marking time’s passing. The final gallery hosts a changing series of choreographed performances.


As part of the exhibition, a wide range of performances are scheduled for this summer. Click below for the performance schedule and to view video clips and descriptions of specific works.

As a part of the museum’s safety protocols, performers may wear masks and other personal protection items.

The Paradox of Stillness features works by Marina Abramović, Francesco Arena, Vanessa Beecroft, Larry Bell, Robert Breer, Trisha Brown, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Elliot Caplan, Paul Chan, Merce Cunningham, Giorgio de Chirico, Fortunato Depero, VALIE EXPORT, Lara Favaretto, T. Lux Feininger, Urs Fischer, Simone Forti, Gilbert & George, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Anthea Hamilton, David Hammons, Philip Haas, Maria Hassabi, Pierre Huyghe, Anne Imhof, Joan Jonas, Yves Klein, Paul Kos, David Lamelas, Fernand Léger, Goshka Macuga, Maruja Mallo, Piero Manzoni, Fabio Mauri, Robert Morris, Dudley Murphy, Senga Nengudi, Paulina Olowska, Roman Ondak, Dennis Oppenheim, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Pope.L, Charles Ray, Pietro Roccasalva, Anri Sala, Xanti Schawinsky, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schmidt, Cindy Sherman, Roman Signer, Laurie Simmons, Avery Singer, Cally Spooner, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Franco Vaccari, Franz Erhard Walther, Franz West, Jordan Wolfson, and Haegue Yang.

The exhibition is accompanied by the most comprehensive publication to date on this subject, with contributions by Vincenzo de Bellis and Jadine Collingwood, Walker Art Center; Manuel Cirauqui, Guggenheim Bilbao; Hendrik Folkerts, Art Institute of Chicago; Emma Lavigne, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and Catherine Wood, Tate Modern, London. Designed and published by the Walker, the catalogue includes more than 400 illustrations, from spectacular color images to rare archival documentation. Now available in the Walker Shop.

Vincenzo de Bellis, curator and associate director of programs, Visual Arts; with Jadine Collingwood, former curatorial assistant, Visual Arts; and William Hernández Luege, curatorial fellow, Visual Arts

  • The Paradox of Stillness: Art, Object, and Performance is organized by the Walker Art Center. Major support is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.



    Additional support is provided by the Edward R. Bazinet Charitable Foundation, Ellen and Jan Breyer, Carlo Bronzini Vender, James Cahn and Jeremiah Collatz, Stephanie and Reilly Dillon, Steve and Kathy Kloves, the David and Leni Moore Family Foundation, Donna and Jim Pohlad, Seda North America, and Susan and Rob White.

    Presentations of works by Vanessa Beecroft, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Lara Favaretto, and Pietro Roccasalva are supported by Q-INTERNATIONAL, Fondazione La Quadriennale di Roma.

    Note: This exhibition has been rescheduled from Spring 2020 (April 18–July 26, 2020).