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Juan Downey

Juan Downey, (May 11, 1940 - June 9,1993) 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 and died in New York, New York at the age of 53 survived by his wife, Marilys Lamadrid. 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.

As Carollee Schneemann eulogized:

Tropos, topos: the passion of structure, the logic of chance; impacting political issue and the archaic mark with technologies of video. Your frame - a common bird escapes rare shadows. Confirming influence. Complex and lucid. The muscle of eye and mind. Husband of Marilys Lamadrid.1

Juan Downey was the creator of more than 40 works. 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.

Video works by Juan Downey


Chile: Juan Downey (Venice, Italy: La Biennale di Venezia 49) 1999.
Juan Downey, The Thinking Eye (New York: International Center of Photography) 1987.
John G. Hanhardt and Anne D. Hoy, Juan Downey: Of Dream Into Study (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Lord Cochrane) 1989.
Nuria Enguita Mayo and Juan Guardiola Roman, Juan Downey: With Energy Beyond These Walls (Valencia, Spain: Institut Valencia d'Art Modern) 1998.