Paco Cao

Tudela Veguín, Asturias - 1965

Paco Cao studied Art History at the University of Oviedo (Spain,) where he received his Ph.D. in 1992. Analyzing art, the mechanics of art making, and advertising strategies, he creates projects in which art processes and the theoretical and commercial components of them become key elements of his open-ended works. Cao, unfaithful to any particular medium, uses a wide range of disciplines and materials.

His work has been shown at and/or made in collaboration with MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, and Creative Time in New York City; as well as El Prado Museum (Madrid), The Reina Sofía Museum (Madrid), MUSAC (León, Spain), CGAC (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), Mercosul Biennale (Porto Alegre, Brazil), Carrillo Gil Museum (México City), La Galleria Nazionale (Rome, Italy), MART (Rovereto, Italy), MAN (Nuoro, Italy), The Museum of Contemporary Art (Antwerp), and BOZAR (Brussels). ​
In 2021 he carried out the exhibition project The Frame and Its Double, a free interpretation of the collection of the Museo Casa Natal de Jovellanos, presented at the CCAI in Gijón, Spain. 

In 2019 she presents the exhibition Attribution at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York. In 2018 he directs the Municipality of Oviedo Tour of  The Victim, which consists of a guided tour –on foot and by bus– through various places in the city and its council in order to analyze historically contextualized cases of victims.

In December 2017, the Galleria Nazionale in Rome, Google Arts & Culture, and two teams of “illustrators” led by artist Paco Cao, came together for a week to experiment at the fringes of art and technology. What resulted was the talent show CONTROL, a tribute to Plato’s Cave.

He is developing a on-going series of Museum Beauty Contests. The latest one took place at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome in collaboration with the American Academy (2016-2017.) The first contest took place at the Asturian Museum of Fine Arts (Oviedo, Spain, 2014.) 

In 2015 he created the site specific film Lady Justice (7:20 minutes), as part of an installation presented at the exhibition When You Cut Into the Present The Future Leaks Out organized by No Longer Empty at the Bronx Borough Courthouse in New York. 

Since 2014 he has been working on a multi-layered project based on the Harlem Renaissance titled Harlem Hidden HistoryHHH first started at the Harlem School of the Arts in New York and later expanded to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. after receiving an Smithsonian Award. In 2016 he presented a solo show related to the project at the Spanish Cultural Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 

He is the founder/director of the Psycho-Linguistic-Retro-Futuristic CABINET created in collaboration with the MART museum in Rovereto, Italy. Its program includes Psychological Cocktail Services which have been presented at MoMA, New York (2014); MUSAC, León (Spain, 2013); El Sueño, Puebla (Mexico, 2013); and Lido Palace and MART in Riva del Garda and Rovereto (Italy, 2012.) 

In 2012 he presented his solo show Eternal Rest at Art Amalgamated in New York. In 2011 his work was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as part of the exhibition Facets of Figuration, as well as at the 8 Mercosul Biennale, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Among his long-term projects are Dance Poison (2009-On going), a 71 minutes film commissioned by CGAC (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), currently expanding into a series of historical installations; the Look-alike Contests Series (2001-2004) organized in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio (NYC, USA), El Prado Museum (Madrid, Spain), Casa de América (Madrid, Spain), the Art Museum of Nuoro (Sardinia, Italy), and the Jovellanos Museum (Gijón, Spain); and the Rent-a-Body business enterprise (1993-1998) organized in collaboration with Creative Time, Inc. (NYC, USA.)

Among his public projects and solo exhibitions are Don’t Touch the White Woman, 2006 (Claire Oliver Gallery, NY); Border 2000 (Public Safety, Skoghall, Sweeden); La ciudad de Dios, 1999 (Artfutura, Seville, Spain); and  Alma Mater, 1997 (Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, Spain).

He has participated in group exhibitions and events organized, among others, by the New Museum (New York, USA); Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil (Mexico City, México);  BOZAR (Brussells, Belgium); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), White Box (New York, USA); Blue Star Art Space (San Antonio, Texas, USA); Anne Faggionato Gallery (London, England); Nie Gallery (Munich, Germany); and Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, Spain.)

He has lectured at Princeton University, New Jersey; Parsons School, New York University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Göteborg Universitet, Gothenberg, Sweden; and at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona, all in Spain.

He is the recipient of XVII Espais Prize (Spain, 2004) and the Santo Foundation Individual Artist Award (USA, 2014.) He has been awarded grants, among others, by Art Matters (New York, 2015), Smithsonian (Washington D.C. 2015), Marcelino Botín Foundation (Santander, Spain, 2000) and Franklin Furnace (New York, 2005.)

He is the author of the following books: The museum of the Victim, 2009 (MV Editions); JP-UM, 2005 (Llibros del Pexe), Fèlix Bermeu. A Hidden Life, 2004 (Ajuntament de Terrassa, Hangar), Ignoto, 2002 (MAN), and Rent-a-Body, 1999 (Maguncia, S.L.)  

His work has been reviewed, among others, by The New York TimesThe Village VoiceThe Huffington PostThe New Yorker, Los Angeles TimesArtNewsEl PaísEl MundoABCLa razón; and La Vanguardia.

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