Vija Celmins - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 19, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Samantha Rippner: Where and with whom did you study printmaking? 


    Vija Celmins: I was exposed to two teachers during my art school studies who were dedicated printmakers:  Garo Antreasian at John Herron Art Institute [Indianapolis], who was a lithographer and who went on to work with June Wayne at Tamarind [Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles] in the early sixties. And John Paul Jones at UCLA, where I did graduate work in the mid-sixties. Both men were very encouraging and supportive even though my interest was mainly painting and drawing. The technical side of printmaking took too long and I was in a hurry to try to form my own ideas. The etching shop at UCLA was a friendly place to hang out though, and since I was such a drawer I enjoyed working on the plates with a needle


    SR: Did you make other prints in the 1960s? 


    VC: I made fewer than ten prints during those years and they’re floating around. I don't think I ever made editions of any of those works, maybe small editions, four or five artist’s proofs. I dropped the prints all together after a while.  


    SR: Your later prints aren’t merely translations of your drawings but work that really come out of an embracing, or a working though, specific print processes.  


    VC: The first prints I made with Jones are really just drawings on plates. In 1970 Tamarind invited me to do a lithograph, I think because they had seen a severe but somewhat successful show of ocean drawings that I had had the year before at Rico Mizuno Gallery [Los Angeles]. So I went in and did a big, direct crayon drawing on stone [Untitled,1970; fig. 3]. We tinted it graphite color so it would look more like a drawing. It was not until later, in 1980, at Gemini [G.E.L., Los Angeles] that I became interested in exploring different ways of making prints.  


    Excerpts from The Prints of Vija Celmins by Samantha Rippner, Vija Celmins interviewed by Samantha Rippner, pgs. 12-13 

    • Provenance

      Butterfield & Butterfield, Los Angeles, Fine American, European & Contemporary Prints, October 25, 1995, lot 1997
      Private California Collection

    • Catalogue Essay

      "The first prints I made with Jones are really just drawings on plates". In the mid-1960's Vija Celmins was doing graduate work in Los Angeles with encouraging support from charismatic teacher John Paul Jones "the etching shop at UCLA was a friendly place to hang out, and since I was a drawer I enjoyed working on the plates with a needle." A couple of other etchings done just around this time show harder, more graphic lines culled from Leonardo da Vinci drawings and Rembrandt's etched lines - looking at other artists for inspiration or as Vija stated "the kind of thing you do when you're floundering". Two Shells appears to be slightly later and developing her unique personal style where she was "dropping those kinds of effects, which I thought were borrowed or decorative or other people's strokes...purge those things that were not mine. I was trying to fit my work to myself". Samantha Rippner The Prints of Vija Celmins, A Delicate Balance - An Interview with Vija Celmins, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002, pp. 12-13.


Two Shells

Etching and aquatint, on Rives BFK paper, with margins.
I. 8 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (22.2 x 24.1 cm)
S. 14 x 14 5/8 in. (35.6 x 37.1 cm)

Signed, dated, annotated 'Artist Proof' and dedicated in pencil, from an unrecorded edition of approximately 4 to 5 proofs, printed at University of California, Los Angeles, unframed.

Full Cataloguing

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $13,860

Contact Specialist

212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 19 - 21 April 2022