Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Quintet of Remembrance

Bill Viola (American, born 1951)
Single-channel video, transferred from 35mm film, color, silent, 16 min., 19 sec.
144 x 216 x 288 in. (365.8 x 548.6 x 731.5 cm)
Variable Media
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2001
Accession Number:
Not on view
Video art was first introduced in the early 1960s by such pioneers as Nam June Paik and Bruce Nauman and continues to be a vital form of contemporary artistic expression. Since the early 1970s, it has been Bill Viola's primary medium and today he is considered one of America's preeminent video artists. His dialogue with art history evolved during the 1990s in a series of videos that make reference to the narratives, human figures, and portraits in well-known works of art. The Quintet of Remembrance is one of four videos created between 2000 and 2001 that were inspired by the artist's study of late medieval and early Renaissance Italian and Flemish paintings and their iconography. In each, a group of five people undergo a range of emotions while the camera records every nuance of their physical reaction.

Here, Viola specifically references Hieronymus Bosch's Christ Mocked (The Crowning with Thorns) (ca. 1490-1500, National Gallery, London), Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi (1495-1505, Getty Museum, Los Angeles), and Dieric Bouts' Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Madonna) (1470-75, Art Institute of Chicago). Bosch's painting acts as the visual template for the composition of this work and the strong emotions conveyed by the five people that vacillate between compassion, shock, grief, anger, fear, and rapture. Although they share a close physical space, each person is fully absorbed in his or her own emotional experience. Shot with high-speed 35-mm film, the actors' performance, which lasted approximately sixty seconds, is extended in the finished video to a little over sixteen minutes, accentuating the power and depth of each emotion.
the artist, New York (2000–2001; sold through the James Cohan Gallery, New York to MMA)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Bill Viola: The Quartet of Remembrance," November 6, 2001–May 5, 2002, no catalogue.

Ken Johnson. "Art in Review: Bill Viola." New York Times (November 10, 2000), p. E37.

David Frankel in "Bill Viola: James Cohan Gallery." Artforum 40 (December 2000), p. 145, calls it "Quintet of Remembrance".

Carol Vogel. "Inside Art: Met Gets Its First Video." New York Times (July 27, 2001), p. E26, ill.

Daniel Kunitz. "Art: Compressed Narratives, Minute Actions." New Criterion 20 (March 2002), pp. 48–49.

Anne L. Strauss in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 2001–2002." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 60 (Autumn 2002), p. 46, ill. (color).

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