Vito Acconci was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1940. He studied literature at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, and received an MFA in creative writing from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1964.
He began his career as a poet being particularly interested in the objectification of language, a trend which began to dominate the New York art scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Acconci cut, spliced, moved and displaced words on a page turning the process of writing into a performative practice. From here, Acconci moved into performance, where he produced some of the most influential art works of the twentieth century including Seedbed, Jump for a Broad and Claim. In the early 1970s his performances were supplemented by film and video; thereafter his practice became centered on installation; and at the end of the 1980s he moved into design and architecture and formed Acconci Studio. This collaborative group, which includes designers in addition to Acconci, develops several public artworks and architectural projects annually.
Acconci has taught at numerous institutions, among them the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, San Francisco Art Institute, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, School of Visual Arts in New York, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Yale University in New Haven.
Since his first solo show in 1969, at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Acconci has participated in numerous exhibitions. Retrospectives have been organized by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Print retrospectives have been mounted by Landfall Press in New York and the Gallery of Art at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Acconci’s achievements have been recognized with several awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and American Academy in Rome. He is also the recipient of the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award and two New York City Art Commission Awards for Excellence in Design.