William E. Jones

Artist, Filmmaker
Born Canton, OH, 1962
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

The year 2012 was a productive one for me, and the [Grants to Artists] I received enabled me to realize a number of projects. I finished a new version of my compilation Midcentury, which accompanied Inside the White Cube in London... I completed Bay of Pigs and Shoot Don't Shoot…[the grant] allowed me to take a break from teaching and devote myself completely to work on these projects...

William E. Jones, December 14, 2012


William E. Jones is an artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer whose practice involves appropriating and recontextualizing imagery from archival material. His work is highly researched and tackles a range of topics including gay subcultures, the production and counterfeiting of currency, and the materiality of film and photography as mediums.

Jones's works include two feature length experimental films, Massillon (1991) and Finished (1997);); the video work The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998); and the documentary Is It Really So Strange? (2004). Funds from his Grants to Artists award supported the realization of Mid-Century (2012), Shoot Don't Shoot (2012), and Bay of Pigs (2012). Jones's publications include Is It Really So Strange? (2006), Tearoom (2008), Heliogabalus (2009), Selections from The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (2009);“Killed": Rejected Images of the Farm Security Administration (2010); Halsted Plays Himself (2011); Between Artists: Thom Andersen and William E. Jones (2013); Imitation of Christ; and Flesh and the Cosmos (2014).

His work has been the subject of retrospectives at Tate Modern, London; Anthology Film Archives, New York; the Austrian Film Museum, Vienna; and Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Germany. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at The Modern Institute, Glasgow; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohion; White Cube, London; David Kordansky Gallery, New York; Andrew Roth Gallery, New York; and Veneklasen/Werner, Berlin.

Jones's work has been included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, the 2011 Istanbul Biennale, the 2009 Venice Biennale, and group shows at The Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Palais de Tokyo, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The Louvre, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, the Walker Art Center, Sculpture Center, Blum and Poe Gallery, Derek Eller Gallery, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, Cinémathèque Française, and LA><ART, Los Angeles.

Prior to his 2012 Grants to Artists, Jones received a Brody Arts Fund Fellowship (1992), a Best Experimental/Independent Film Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (1997), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1999), a Jean Paul Getty Trust Fund Fellowship from the California Community Foundation (2006), an American Film Institute Independent Film and Video Maker Program Grant, and a Durfee Foundation Danish Arts Council Artistʼs Grant (2009).

In 1985, Jones graduated from Yale University and in 1990 he received an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia.

Artist Statement

My education prepared me first to be a film theorist (a career to which I was ill-suited), then to be an experimental filmmaker producing long essay films, a practice that nearly bankrupted me. In recent years, I have returned to my original artistic goals and now consider myself an artist who shows mainly in galleries, but who also writes. I currently make movies on an extreme economy of means by manipulating and recontextualizing appropriated images. I also make collages and documentary photographs realized as digital prints. Among my favorite works are the artist's books I have been publishing since 2006.

December 2011