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b. 1961, Brazil

Vik Muniz Biography

Vik Muniz is best known for his works made from everyday materials such as string, garbage, chocolate syrup and dirt. He engages in the referential potential of these surprising mediums by assembling works that incorporate their subject matter into their materials. In doing so, Muniz adds new dimensions to established notions of representation.

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Muniz began his career in sculpture with playful works such as Clown Skull (1987), from his 'Relics' series, which depicts the realistic-looking skull of a clown, bulbous bone nose included. Eventually, however, he found photographic documentation of his sculptural work to be more compelling than the artworks themselves and gradually came to focus on photography as the exclusive final medium for all his pieces. His 1989 series 'The Best of LIFE' was inspired by photographs from the coffee table publication The Best of LIFE, a book he had owned but lost while moving house. Muniz drew the legendary images in the book memory—among them The Man on the Moon and Kiss at Times Square (both 1989)—then photographed the drawings and presented the photos as final works. In another series, titled 'Pictures of Clouds' (2001), the artist photographed a skywriter's clouds as they gradually disintegrated and disappeared.

Unlike fading clouds formations which are in danger of disappearing from memory, masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando are deeply embedded in popular consciousness. However, Muniz's depictions of these images rework the iconography in non-traditional mediums that match the content of the image itself. For example, his 2004 portrait of Marilyn Monroe, titled Marilyn Monroe (Pictures of Diamonds), is made of diamonds—a reference to her famous song 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend'. In his 'Pictures of Dust' series (2001), Muniz replicates the works of various famous mid-century American artists—such as Donald Judd's Untitled (1965) and Richard Serra's Prop (1968)—in dust collected from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Discussing the piece in his Joseph M Cohen Family Collection biography, Muniz said: 'Dust is pieces of hair and skin. I think people scratch their heads a lot in museums; that gets mixed with the residue from the artworks themselves. That's the ultimate bond between the museum visitor and the artwork'.

In the past decade, Muniz has extended his visual repertoire from contemporary culture to more personal encounters. In his series 'Pictures of Garbage' (2008), he photographed garbage pickers he met at an open-air dumpsite just outside Rio de Janeiro called Jardim Gramacho. However, he retains his interest in iconography by staging the pickers as the subjects of classical portraits, such as the French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat from Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat. Details of the images were accented with the garbage the models had scavenged. In the accompanying documentary film Waste Land (2010), directed by Lucy Walker, Muniz states that he aimed to 'change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day'. Indeed, due the critical acclaim and success of the documentary, the artist and the filmmakers have donated more than $300,000 to the pickers' community in Jardim Gramacho.

Muniz splits his time between Brooklyn and Rio de Janeiro.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2018

Vik Muniz Featured Artworks

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Repro: Ten Hummingbirds, after Martin Johnson Heade by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizRepro: Ten Hummingbirds, after Martin Johnson Heade, 2020Archival inkjet print
152.4 x 250.2 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Contact Gallery
The Education of Cupid, after Correggio by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizThe Education of Cupid, after Correggio, 2004Framed chromogenic print mounted on aluminium
97 x 71 inches
Gary Tatintsian Gallery Contact Gallery
Pro Eto, after Rodchenko by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizPro Eto, after Rodchenko, 2007Chromogenic print mounted on aluminium
274 x 180 cm
Gary Tatintsian Gallery Contact Gallery
Mnemonic Vehicle No. 1 by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizMnemonic Vehicle No. 1, 2014Vehicle: composite, polyurethane, Plexiglas and aluminium; box: UV ink jet print on paper on museum board
Beyer Projects Contact Gallery
Handmade: Letter Rack by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizHandmade: Letter Rack, 2017mixed media on archival inkjet print
101 x 76 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Contact Gallery
Handmade: Interaction of Color 24 (Rectangles, Black Stripes) by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizHandmade: Interaction of Color 24 (Rectangles, Black Stripes), 2017Mixed media on archival inkjet print
76 x 56 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Contact Gallery

Vik Muniz Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, #arteconecta at Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Closed
2 April–30 June 2020 Group Exhibition #arteconecta Galeria Nara RoeslerSão Paulo
Contemporary art exhibition, Vik Muniz, Superfícies at Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Closed
24 October 2019–30 January 2020 Vik Muniz Superfícies Galeria Nara RoeslerSão Paulo
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Journeys at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston
Closed
30 March–4 May 2019 Group Exhibition Journeys Krakow Witkin GalleryBoston

Vik Muniz Represented By

Beyer Projects contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Beyer Projects New York
Galeria Nara Roesler contemporary art gallery in São Paulo, Brazil Galeria Nara Roesler New York, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo
Templon contemporary art gallery in 30 rue Beaubourg, Paris, France Templon Paris, Brussels

Vik Muniz In Ocula Magazine

The Armory Show 2020 Ocula Photolog The Armory Show 2020

The Armory Show (5–8 March) features presentations by leading international galleries, innovative artist commissions, and dynamic public programs. The 2020 edition of The Armory Show, welcomes 183 exhibitors from 32 countries, convening Midtown Manhattan at Piers 90 and 94.

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The most searched artists on Ocula now Ocula Photolog The most searched artists on Ocula now

A selection of this week's most searched artists on Ocula.com 

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Two Exhibitions: Two Collections - Japan Focus Ocula Report Two Exhibitions: Two Collections - Japan Focus By Annabel James, Tokyo

Two private collection shows in Japan this summer revealed radically different ways to present and interpret the role of the contemporary art collector.

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Vik Muniz In Related Press

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The art of the beautiful game: football moves off pitch and into the museum Related Press The art of the beautiful game: football moves off pitch and into the museum 16 June 2018, Wallpaper*

Football has many guises. It is a pastime where schoolboys scrape knees in a courtyard; a tear-jerking symbol of national pride; a multi-billion dollar industry with corporate interest.

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'You always find something different': Sir Elton John on his love of photography Related Press 'You always find something different': Sir Elton John on his love of photography 14 March 2017, Christie's

‘A photograph brings me so much joy, they’re beautiful objects,’ says Sir Elton John, discussing a remarkable collection of 25 works by some of the world’s greatest photographers, to be offered at Christie’s in New York on 6 April 2017. Proceeds from the sale of these works will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), an international...

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'Metachromes': Vik Muniz Related Press 'Metachromes': Vik Muniz 10 March 2017, ArtAsiaPacific

Metachromes is the third solo exhibition to be held at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Hong Kong. Featuring the work of internationally renowned São Paulo-born, New York-based artist Vik Muniz, the exhibition showcases the artist's most recent series Metachrome (2016) alongside new works from his renowned Pictures of Pigments series (2005—16)....

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From Chuck Close to Sarah Sze, a Ride Through the Art of the Second Avenue Subway Related Press From Chuck Close to Sarah Sze, a Ride Through the Art of the Second Avenue Subway 5 January 2017, Hyperallergic

On New Year’s Day, there were two ways you could celebrate 2017 on either end of New York City’s Q train: take it all the way to Coney Island and go for a frigid swim with the Polar Bear Club or journey to three new Manhattan stops nearly a century in the making. The Second Avenue Subway, following long delays, incredible cost, and years of...

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Vik Muniz In Video & Audio

vik muniz | superfícies Related Video & Audio vik muniz | superfícies 23 October 2019, Galeria Nara Roesler

A Galeria Nara Roesler | São Paulo apresenta Superfícies, mostra individual de Vik Muniz na qual o artista amplia a sua investigação sobre a imagem em uma série inédita de trabalhos, todos únicos e produzidos neste ano. A série tem como ponto de partida um conjunto amplo e variado de pinturas abstratas, de diferentes autores e procedências...

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