bill viola san sepolcro

Bill Viola at the Crypt of Leonard

Bill Viola returns to Milan with an extraordinary exhibition in the Crypt of Leonard, on view from October 17, 2017 to January 28, 2018.

The exhibition showcases three video artworks that create a living dialogue between the sacred hypogeum church, located in the heart of the ancient part of Milan, and the themes that Viola has explored in his works such as birth, death, rebirth, and human consciousness.

A journey has been created in the Crypt by the three video works that bring the viewer closer to the understanding of the imperceptible boundary between life and death; that displays the profound emotions of people; and that portrays the transformation at the time of death.

During this journey, the viewer will connect emotionally with Bill Viola’s artworks since the pieces act as a mirror, reflecting our own emotions that become amplified by the beautiful architecture and the ancient history of the Crypt.


On view are three important works by Bill Viola :

  • The Quintet of the Silent (2000). In a place that for centuries has been a witness to the emotions of thousands of people who wept, prayed, rejoiced, hoped, the visitor will come across a work that explores the human emotions. A group of five men standing together undergo a wave of intense emotions that threaten to overwhelm them. As the sequence begins, they start from a neutral expression that gradually builds to an extreme level until it gradually subsides, leaving each person drained and exhausted. The slow motion of the video that allows the visitor to fully grasp the change in both the face and the body’s expression, is characterized by the sensibility and style of Caravaggio with whose poetics the project will The drama of the faces, the use of the body and the light / dark dichotomy, the theatricality of the emotions are expressive techniques that from the seventeenth century have now resurfaced in the art of Bill Viola.


  • The Return (2007). In a crypt that has passed through centuries and a long history, this work is a reflection on the passing of time. Bill Viola wrote: “From a dark, grainy space, a woman slowly approaches an invisible boundary. Her passage through the threshold between life and death is a violent one, and she reluctantly moves into the light as she transforms into a living being.”


  • Earth Martyr (2014). In the hypogeum church that to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ has been voted , a person rises from his earthly tomb and returns to life by overcoming the lived martyrdom and once again crosses a border, defeating time in his death and rebirth.




– From October 17, 2017  to January 28, 2018

– Open from Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 10pm, on Sunday from 4pm to 9pm. Saturday Night Tours at 10pm and at 11pm

– Entry every hour, ONLY by reservation (below)

– Ticket 10 €, free children

– Night tour ticket (show + guided tour) 22 € (click here)

– The crypt’s architecture does not allow access to visitors with severe motor disabilities



Click here to book your ticket.



An initiative by –





In collaboration with –

bill viola studio





With the support of –




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