Paco Cao studied Art History at the University of Oviedo (Spain,) where he received his Ph.D. in 1992. Analyzing art, the mechanics of art making, and advertising strategies, he creates projects in which art processes and the theoretical and commercial components of them become key elements of his open-ended works. Cao, unfaithful to any particular medium, uses a wide range of disciplines and materials.
He is currently working on a on-going series of Museum Beauty Contests. The first one took place at the Asturian Museum of Fine Arts (Oviedo, Spain, 2014.) Presently is organizing a Beauty Contest at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome in collaboration with the American Academy.
In 2015 he created the site specific film Lady Justice (7:20 minutes), as part of an installation presented at the exhibition "When You Cut Into the Present The Future Leaks Out" organized by No Longer Empty at the Bronx Borough Courthouse in New York, curated by Regine Basha. This project is an exploration of the historic allegory of Justice using a non-lineal narrative without a predetermined screen-play. The film production was done in collaboration with the Ghetto Film School in New York.
Since 2014 he has been working on two parallel projects: Harlem Hidden History (HHH), a multi-layered project based on the Harlem Renaissance, and a book on black people and the History of Spain titled Black Spain. HHH first started at the Harlem School of the Arts in New York and them expanded to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. after receiving an Smithsonian Award.
He is the founder director of the Psycho-Linguistic-Retro-Futuristic CABINET created in collaboration with the MART museum in Rovereto, Italy. Its program includes Psychological Cocktail Services which have been presented at MoMA, New York (2014); MUSAC, León (Spain, 2013); El sueño, Puebla (Mexico, 2013); and Lido Palace and MART in Riva del Garda and Rovereto (Italy, 2012.)
In 2012 he presented his solo show Eternal Rest at Art Amalgamated in New York. In 2011 his work was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as part of the exhibition Facets of Figuration, as well as at the 8 Mercosul Biennale, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Among his long-term projects are Dance Poison (2009-On going), a 71 minutes film commissioned by CGAC (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), currently expanding into a series of historical installations; the Look-alike Contests Series (2001-2004) organized in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio (NYC, USA), El Prado Museum (Madrid, Spain), Casa de América (Madrid, Spain), the Art Museum of Nuoro (Sardinia, Italy), and the Jovellanos Museum (Gijón, Spain); and the Rent-a-Body business enterprise (1993-1998) organized in collaboration with Creative Time, Inc. (NYC, USA.)
Among his public projects and solo exhibitions are Don’t Touch the White Woman, 2006 (Claire Oliver Gallery, NY); Border 2000 (Public Safety, Skoghall, Sweeden); La ciudad de Dios, 1999 (Artfutura, Seville, Spain); and Alma Mater, 1997 (Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, Spain).
He has participated in group exhibitions and events organized, among others, by the New Museum (New York, USA); Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil (Mexico City, México); BOZAR (Brussells, Belgium); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), White Box (New York, USA); Blue Star Art Space (San Antonio, Texas, USA); Anne Faggionato Gallery (London, England); Nie Gallery (Munich, Germany); and Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, Spain.)
He has lectured at Princeton University, New Jersey; Parsons School, New York University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Göteborg Universitet, Gothenberg, Sweden; and at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona, all in Spain.
He is the recipient of XVII Espais Prize (Spain, 2004) and the Santo Foundation Individual Artist Award (USA, 2014.) He has been awarded grants, among others, by Art Matters (New York, 2015), Smithsonian (Washington D.C. 2015), Marcelino Botín Foundation (Santander, Spain, 2000) and Franklin Furnace (New York, 2005.)
He is the author of the following books: The museum of the Victim, 2009 (MV Editions); JP-UM, 2005 (Llibros del Pexe), Fèlix Bermeu. A Hidden Life, 2004 (Ajuntament de Terrassa, Hangar), Ignoto, 2002 (MAN), and Rent-a-Body, 1999 (Maguncia, S.L.)
His work has been reviewed, among others, by The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Huffington Post, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, ArtNews, El País, El Mundo, ABC, La razón; and La Vanguardia.