Thursday, 18 December 2008

Vik Muniz

Not just any artist could create side-by-side replicas of the Mona Lisa — one in peanut butter and one in jelly — and still be taken seriously by the art establishment. But Vik Muniz has. He has also recreated Hans Namuth’s famous Action Photo of Jackson Pollock in chocolate syrup, made Goya’s Saturn Devouring One of His Sons out of a huge heap of junk, and done Raphael’s The School of Athens in puzzle pieces — all the while exhibiting solo at the likes of the Musée d'art contemporain in Montreal, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Venice Biennale.

Muniz, who grew up in São Paulo and came to the U.S. in 1983, started out as an ad artist, but a love affair with Minimalism, Postminimalism, and the neo-Pop of Jeff Koons quickly led him to leave commercial work behind. Interested in ways of engaging the viewer, he began to use his drawing and sculpting abilities to copy (his word of choice; of "re-create," he says, “I find it very problematic”) famous artworks, icons, and objects, doing so with materials not typically associated with art — drawing in string or maple syrup, sculpting from toys or garbage. Hoping to take the illusion one step further, he decided to photograph his creations and use the pictures as his displayed artworks.

“I use photography for everything, because it creates this veil of ambiguity that invites a lot of questioning,” Muniz told ARTINFO recently. “The moment you see a photograph, you start thinking: When was it done? How long did it take? How big was it? What did he use?” A similar logic of questioning applies to the artist’s latest endeavor — a project for the Museum of Modern Art’s “Artist’s Choice” series, which invites artists to curate shows assembled from the New York museum’s holdings. Muniz’s exhibition, “Rebus,” which runs through February 23, 2009, is a three-room pictorial puzzle where the artworks and the connections between them form a conceptual progression from start to finish. A program is provided to guide visitors through the wall text–less space, but the artist encourages people to go through the show without it.

Just before “Rebus” opened to the public, ARTINFO walked through with Muniz and asked him about some of the works in the show (and one that isn't) and how they relate to his own practice. The result is something of a self-portrait through the works of other artists. (Jillian Steinhauer at Artinfo)

1 comment:

Emilie said...

I love his work. I went to that show at MAC 3 times. Thanks for this informative page.

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