Vik Muniz - Latin America New York Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Moderna, Vik Muniz – Pictures of Garbage, January28 - March 22, 2009
    Charlotte, Mint Museum Uptown, Vantagepoint X / Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters, August 2012 - April 2013
    Nashville, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters, June - September 2013
    Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Vik Muniz, March - August 2014

  • Literature

    P. Herkenhoff, L. Kaz and N. Loddi, VIK, 2009, p. 144 (illustrated)
    P. Corrêa do Lago, Vik Muniz, Obra Completa, 1987 - 2009, 2009, pp. 552-553 (illustrated)
    Vik Muniz - Pictures of Anything, exh. cat., Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Tel-Aviv, 2014, p. 4 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A self-described “student of media”, there is virtually no medium that Vik Muniz has not explored to its most extensive limits. From Pictures of Junk to Pictures of Diamonds, Muniz is a master at blending a wide array of unlikely materials with iconic images borrowed from art history and popular culture. His vision of the reaches and possibilities of art is immense, and by linking his artistic past with our contemporary present he has created his own personal narrative and visual language. In doing so, he invites us to reflect on the inexhaustibility and regenerative potential of the creative image.

    In his Pictures of Junk series, Muniz invokes iconic images that throughout centuries have been engraved into the global canon of art. Juxtaposing literal social refuse with masterworks of art, he engages in the playful contradictions between subject, image and meaning that have come to define his career. The artist states, “The beautiful thing about garbage is that it’s negative; it’s something that you don’t use anymore; it’s what you don’t want to see. So if you are a visual artist, it becomes a very interesting material to work with because it’s the most nonvisual of materials. You are working with something that you usually try to hide.” In the present lot, Muniz appropriates Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance and one of the most ubiquitous images in the world. He grounds a magnum opus of art history firmly in our contemporary context, exposing the least desirable aspects of our daily life and contrasting it with our feted—sometimes idealized— humanist past. In doing so, he reminds his viewers not only of the vulnerability of the human condition, but also how beauty can be found in unsuspecting places, through unsuspecting means.

    Pictures of Junk exemplifies the artist’s foray into the science of visual observation and its creative manifestations. His oeuvre is, in many ways a study on perception and its many variations, and it seeks to challenge each viewer’s levels of absorption and engagement. Muniz’s use of the medium results in a collaborative process between art history, the artwork itself and its audience. He encourages us to look long and hard at an image that is composed of thousands of others, and yet one which also consists of a single entity. The very nature of the work changes depending on our point of view. Its large scale aids in this purpose— it enables us to experience it in a plurality of ways, allowing for great freedom of interpretation. Content and meaning are therefore the result of a collaborative process between an artwork and its audience.

    Muniz argues that the acts of looking and interpreting what we see are at the forefront of what makes us human—indeed, looking is among the most instinctive and natural of all human actions. The present lot is a dynamic center of exchanges, and Muniz’s lesson is the ultimate reversal: the true subject of the triptych may not be Botticelli’s renowned work, but rather the perceptive interplay between the image and its viewer.


The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (from Pictures of Junk)

digital c-print, in 3 parts
(i, iii) 92 1/4 x 53 1/4 in. (234.3 x 135.3 cm)
(ii) 92 1/4 x 47 3/4 in. (234.3 x 121.3 cm)

This work is number 4 from an edition of 6. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Galeria Nara Roesler.

$150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $173,000

Contact Specialist
Kaeli Deane
Head of Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1352

Latin America

New York 26 May 2015 4pm