Juan Downey

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Juan Downey (1940 - 1993) was a pioneer video artist. Born in Santiago, Chile, he received a B.A. in architecture from the Catholic University of Chile. He also studied at S.W. Hayter's Atelier 17 in Paris and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He immigrated to New York in 1965. He is best known for his video work that is an eclectic voyage into political discourse, the history of art, ideas, personal discovery and self-reflection. Downey rediscovered a form of moving discourse that combined a multicultural deconstructivist investigation of language with his own deep understanding of color, form, shape and process. In addition to his videotapes, Downey also produced an extensive body of work that included installations, drawings, and paintings. He produced a major body of work that interweaves a sophisticated multicultural discourse with an idiosyncratic search for identity. In an artistic practice that included installations, videotapes, drawings, and performances, Downey investigated the self through the historical texts of European art and culture, as well as the cultures of his native South America. His videotapes, drawings, performances and installations have been exhibited in solo shows at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Jewish Museum, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston; The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; the International Center of Photography in New York; and the Schlessinger-Boissante Gallery in New York. Downey's work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; at Documenta 6 in Kassel, West Germany; at four Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial exhibitions in New York; at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; at the Venice Biennale; and at the World Wide Video Festival at The Hague. In 1998 Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Centre Julio Gonzalez in Valencia, Spain hosted a major retrospective of Downey's extensive body of work. Downey received recognition for his video work from the Rockefeller Foundation, Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been broadcast on WNET, WGBH, and KQED and is available through Electronic Arts Intermix.