Born in 1959
Francis Alÿs (Belgian, b.1959) is a painter and Conceptual artist, best known for large-scale performances that address the social and political models of the urban environment. Born in Antwerp, Alÿs studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium, and the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice, graduating in 1986. Many of his works are based in Mexico City—where he has lived for more than 20 years—including his project, Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing (1997), for which he dragged a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it melted. Alÿs seeks to create metaphors from bodies in motion. For When Faith Moves Mountains (2002), Alÿs, along with 500 volunteers, unsuccessfully attempted to move a sand dune four inches in an area near Lima, Peru. In 2005, as part of his project The Green Line, Alÿs walked across Jerusalem with a can that dripped green paint, following the line that was drawn as part of the armistice after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He also works extensively in video, painting, drawing, and photography. The 1995 series Le temps du sommeil consists of small paintings that echo his large-scale projects and reinforce the dreamlike quality that characterizes the entire body of his work. Alÿs’s work has been exhibited in institutions such as the Tate Modern in London and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he has participated in Venice Biennales held in 1999, 2001, and 2007.