Villareal graduated from Portsmouth Abbey School, an independent co-educational Catholic Benedictine prep school in Portsmouth, RI, in 1986. He received a BA in sculpture from Yale University in 1990 and a graduate degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP).
Villareal has permanent installations at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, as well as in the private collections of contemporary art collectors CJ Follini and Renee Ryan.
On March 5, 2013, Villareal debuted his largest piece to date, “The Bay Lights,” a public light installation consisting of 25,000 LEDs strung on the vertical cables of the San Francisco -Oakland Bay Bridge. The installation cost $8 million to install and will be activated nightly until 2015
Material: approximately 41,000 computer programmed LED nodes that run along an entire 200-foot-long space
Technology: Multiverse (2008), a site-specific LED sculpture by Leo Villareal, is on view in the Concourse walkway connecting the East and West Buildings of the National Gallery of Art. The sculpture, which includes approximately 41,000 LED (light-emitting diode) nodes controlled by custom-designed software, is Villareal’s largest and most ambitious work to date. Learn more about the artist’s programming method as well as his conceptual and technological inspiration in this studio interview.
He uses the programming skills that enable him to push LED technology far past familiar commercial applications.