St. Moritz Art Film Festival


Conversation: Not Vital & Diana Segantini

Not Vital's work spans between different countries but its content focuses on the same theoretical questions.

Not Vital was born in 1948 in Sent in the Swiss Lower Engadine. From 1968 to 1969, he studied at the Centre universitaire expérimental de Vincennes in Paris before moving to New York in 1974. In the 1980s, he created his first three-dimensional works. Vital currently divides his time between Beijing, China, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Sent, Switzerland.

His works are inspired from his encounters, impressions and collaborative projects amongst different cultures around the world. Working in diverse media across sculpture, installation, paintings and drawings, Vital’s works frequently blur the boundaries between reality and the surreal.  

Not Vital’s foundation (fundaziun Not Vital) in Ardez aims to return prints, in particular from the 17th and 18th century, to their origins, as part of a Rhaeto-Romanic library. The foundation also includes an art collection with works by Not Vital and others. In 2010, he took part in the competition for the redesign of the chancel of St. Gallen Cathedral. He won the Art-et-Architecture competition with his No Problem Sculpture for Zurich’s Mobimo Tower, a high-rise building completed in 2011. In March 2016, Vital acquired Tarasp Castle from the Hessen family.


Yet, the spot in Switzerland is only one point on the residence list by Not Vital. The artist is a modern nomad.

"My real studio is in my head. So it's always where I am right now" he said once. He has a residence in New York City, where he lived for many years in the seventies and closed acquaintance with other artists such as Willem de Kooning, Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In 1993 Vital also took the U.S. citizenship. In addition to a residence in Lucca in Tuscany the artist often is in Agadez in Niger. 

Not Vital produces paintings, drawings, graphics and photo work, but the big part of his works are sculptures, installations and interventions, preferably made of natural materials such as leather, wood, stone, plaster, bronze, iron, silver, gold. Center of his work is the nature of the human cycle of life, the eternal cycle of birth and death. For this he uses a simple, very effective language. 

Not Vital exhibited inter alia at the Kunsthalle in Vienna, at the Venice Biennale, in Kunstmuseum Lucerne, at the Museum of Modern Art in Hong Kong, at the Kunsthalle in Bielefeld and at the Musée Rath in Geneva.

His works are among others in the collections of the Museum of Modern in Salzburg and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.