Leo Villareal


Leo Villareal is a light artist based in New York City. Over the last 20 years, he has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. His work is in the permanent collections of museums including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, Kagawa, Japan; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

In addition to being represented by Pace Gallery, Villareal also creates permanent, site-specific works including: Volume, Dallas Cowboys Headquarters, Frisco, Texas; Buckyball, the Exploratorium, San Francisco, California; Light Matrix, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Volume (Renwick), Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.; Radiant Pathway, Rice University, Houston, Texas; Cosmos, Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Multiverse, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Diagonal Grid, Borusan Center for Culture and Arts, Istanbul, Turkey; Stars, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn; and Hive, for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at the Bleecker Street subway station in Manhattan.

In March 2013, Villareal inaugurated The Bay Lights, a monumental 1.8-mile installation of 25,000 white LED lights on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. In April 2021, Villareal completed Illuminated River, which unites 9 bridges in central London into a single, monumental work of public art.

Villareal was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and grew up in El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua. He attended Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island and received his BA in sculpture from Yale University in 1990 and his master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University in 1994. After graduating from NYU, Villareal moved to San Francisco to work for three years at Paul Allen’s private research lab, Interval Research, in Palo Alto. Since 2004, Villareal has served on the board of Ballroom Marfa in Marfa, Texas, a dynamic, contemporary cultural arts space. In 2011, Villareal joined the board of the Burning Man Project.

He currently lives in downtown Manhattan with his wife Yvonne Force Villareal and their two children.