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.
Vital’s work are shown in major museums and galleries as well as in public spaces worldwide. In 2021, his work ‘SCARCH’ is featured at the Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore for the Venice Biennale Architettura 2021. Last year, Pascal Hofmann’s film, NOT ME – A Journey with Not Vital, tracing the artist’s career was released. Recently, he has had solo exhibitions at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg (Austria), Hauser & Wirth Somerset (UK), Wilde (Basel, Switzerland) and Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield, UK) among others. Recent group shows include ones at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (Switzerland), Kunstmuseum Basel (Switzerland), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humblbæk, Denmark), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan) and Peggy Guggenheim Colletion (Venice, Italy). In 2013, 700 Snowballs was on view at the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore (Venice, Italy). In 2001, the artist’s work was featured in Plateau of Humanity at the 49th Venice Biennale. Further group shows include ones at the Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach, USA), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing, China), MoMA New York (USA), Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK), Galerie Guy Bärtschi, now Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland), Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA), Guggenheim Museum New York (USA), Kunsthalle Basel (Switzerland), Kunsthaus Zürich (Switzerland), Brooklyn Museum (USA), National Gallery of Art Washington (USA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA) and Kunstmuseum Lucerne (Switzerland). Vital’s works are featured in collections around the world: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York (USA), Kunstmuseum Bern (Switzerland), Kunstmuseum Luzern (Switzerland), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, USA), Philadelphia Museum (USA), The Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA) and The Brooklyn Museum (New York, USA).