Vik Muniz - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Xippas, Paris

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I don’t want to amaze you with my powers to fool you. I want to make you aware of how much you want to believe in the image—to be conscious of the measure of your own belief, rather than of my capacity to fool you.” –Vik Muniz, 2000 from an interview with Mark Magill (BOMB Magazine, Issue 73/Fall 2000)

    In pictures of chocolate, portraits of pigment, still-lifes of trash and many other mediums, Brazilian native Vik Muniz has dazzled us in the past twenty years with his ephemeral photographs: iconic images comprised of shapeable mediums. Muniz achieves his signature pictures through the painstaking process of first tracing a photograph (he oftentimes uses his own photographs, such as in his renowned 1996 series Sugar Children), then utilizing his chosen medium to portray his subjects in a fascinating dimension. Coincidentally, as we gaze upon Muniz’s photographs, we witness both the intricacies of the molded medium and the larger picture. Muniz endows the spectator with a keen awareness of both his macro project and the minutiae of the micro-universe inherent. The present lot, Brigitte Bardot (Diamond Divas), 2004, comes from his first set of media goddesses executed in brilliant-cut diamonds. In shaping the immortal Bardot from a medium as lustrous as she, Muniz presents us with an awe-inspiring and elegant marriage of subject and style. And, through his sensuous portrait, Muniz presents us with a sounding board for our associative emotions, pulling us into personal connection with his art.

    The present lot glows with the gleam of Brigitte Bardot herself. Having conquered the French entertainment industry in the 1960s through starring in films by Jean-Luc Godard and recording a string of popular musical hits, Bardot became an internationally recognized sex symbol. Her uncompromising sensuality and voluptuousness led many to believe that she was the most liberated woman in France—the reigning queen of 60s era women’s progression. Here, we see her representation aglow with crystals of varying sizes and densities, giving special complexity to the most famous parts of her legendary face: her full lips and shimmering blonde hair. In addition, Muniz's choice of publicity still gives Bardot an even more sensuous edge through her outstretched arm, reclining relaxedly in back of her. Muniz employed over 3000 diamonds to achieve his radiant effect; but, following the assembly and photographing of the image, the diamonds were dismantled and scattered, leaving only the ephemeral image of Bardot.

    Muniz’s portrait locks Bardot’s beauty in a permanent state of being, similar to our own habits of recollection: we recall her as a perpetual temptress, forever at the zenith of her splendor. Yet Muniz’s manner of portrayal is not only reverential, it is also represents a method of intensifying our emotive responses: as the viewer gazes upon Bardot’s legendary beauty, immortalized in a sea of adamant crystal, he is released unto a wealth of varying sentiments. No matter the nature of the viewer’s associative feeling —inspiration, envy, sadness, lust—Muniz succeeds in establishing a connection between our sense of memory and our sense of self. In showing us a gateway into our own visceral natures, Muniz falls in line with the Neo-concretists. As his Brazilian countrymen, they espoused the sensuous as opposed to the intellectual as well as art in the realm of geometric abstraction. Taking as his medium the paragon of geometric abstraction—the brilliant-cut diamond—Muniz takes it one step further: he assembles from a wealth of abstraction a picture of magnificent poignancy and meaning, one that allows us to communicate fully and deeply with one of history’s most immortal beauties.



Brigitte Bardot (Diamond Divas)

Cibachrome print on super-glossy Ilfoflex.
39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. (100 x 80 cm).
Signed and dated "Vik Muniz, 2004" on a label affixed to the reverse of the backing board.
This work is from an edition of 10.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $110,500

Latin America

14 & 15 November 2011
New York