Vija Celmins : to fix the image in memory

Garrels, Gary, author
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Summary

  • Best known for her striking drawings of ocean surfaces, begun in 1968 and revisited over many years both in drawings and paintings, Vija Celmins (b. 1938) has been creating exquisitely detailed renderings of natural imagery for more than five decades. The oceans were followed by desert floors and night skies--all subjects in which vast, expansive distances are distilled into luminous, meticulous, and mesmerizing small-scale artworks. For Celmins, this obsessive "redescribing" of the world is a way to understand human consciousness in relation to lived experience. The first major publication on the artist in twenty years, this comprehensive and lavishly illustrated volume explores the full range of Celmins's work produced since the 1960s--drawings and paintings as well as sculpture and prints. Scholarly essays, a narrative chronology, and a selection of excerpts from interviews with the artist illuminate her methods and techniques; survey her early years in Los Angeles, where she was part of a circle that included James Turrell and Ken Price; and trace the development of her work after she moved to New York City and befriended figures such as Robert Gober and Richard Serra. Exhibition: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA (15.12.2018-31.03.2019); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada (13.06-11.08.2019); The Met Breuer, New York, USA (01.10.2019-12.01.2020).
  • "Vija Celmins (b. 1938) has been creating exquisitely detailed drawings, paintings, and sculptures of natural imagery for more than five decades. She is perhaps best known for her striking drawings of ocean surfaces, desert floors, and night skies, in which vast, expansive distances are distilled into mesmerizing small-scale artworks. Celmins terms her process of translating one surface to another--whether working from photographic sources or replicating found objects--'rediscription,' an act that explores human consciousness in relation to lived experience and invites us to question our perceptions of reality. The first major publication on the artist in twenty years, this comprehensive and lavishly illustrated monograph explores the full range of Celmins's work produced since the 1960s--drawings and paintings as well as sculpture and prints. Scholarly essays, a narrative chronology, and a selection of excerpts from interviews with the artist illuminate her continued commitment to investigating the nature of drawing and painting. Documenting her years in the artist community of Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s, where she first broke from the predominant styles of Abstract Expressionism, Pop, and Minimalism to refine her unique approach to abstraction, as well as her time in the vibrant milieu of New York of the 1980s and 1990s, where she ultimately settled, this unprecedented survey offers a broader context than ever before for her distinctive work."

Notes

  • Published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, December 15, 2018-March 31, 2019; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, May 4-August 4, 2019; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 24, 2019-January 12, 2020.
  • Includes bibliographical references (pages 256-261) and index.

Contents

  • Foreword / Neal Benezra and Max Hollein -- Acknowledgments / Gary Garrels and Ian Alteveer -- Lenders to the exhibition -- Vija Celmins : To fix the image in memory / Gary Garrels -- The image found me : Vija Celmins in Los Angeles / Russell Ferguson -- Redescribing the photograph / Frances Jacobus-Parker -- Moving out / Suzanne Hudson -- Longer than anywhere in the world : Vija Celmins on the east coast / Ian Alteveer -- Exercises in abstraction / Briony Fer -- Vija Celmins : In the artist's words / Compiled by Meredith A. Brown -- Chronology -- Exhibition history / Compiled by Nancy Lim -- Selected bibliography / Works in the exhibition -- Index
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