Vik Muniz - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Stux Gallery, New York
    The Collection of Martin Z. Margulies, Miami
    Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art Day Auction, 12 November 2009, lot 309

  • Exhibited

    Before the Camera: Remaking Reality and the Make-Believe, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, 14 October 2006- 30 January 2007

  • Literature

    Capivara, Vik Muniz: Obra Completa 1987-2009, pp. 113, 115-121
    Elkins, Vik Muniz, Incomplete Works, pp. 91-99

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Best of LIFE is a series from 1989 made towards the beginning of Muniz’s career, and one that embraced his fascination with the concept of the “image within”—the image that people hold in their memories—that he has continued to explore throughout his career.

    Muniz, new to the United States in 1983, purchased the book The Best of LIFE at a garage sale in Chicago. It became a source of comfort and connection to his new surroundings. According to the artist, “The Best of LIFE was the only ‘family’ reference I had at the time. I learned to love those images. The Margaret Bourke-Whites, the Alfred Eisenstaedts - the feeling of sharing a picture, the sensations that two or more people know the same thing, live the same moment.” The concept that other people, even strangers, could all connect to the familiarity of these ‘known’ images was not only a comfort, but increasingly intriguing to Muniz.

    After losing the beloved book in 1987 Muniz began to try and recall the images from his memory, writing and drawing his recollections of them. During these recreations the actual images were never referenced and he was able to truly delve into the concept of the “image within” finding that everyone remembered the images differently, even if by only subtle differences. “I discovered that people store images in radically different ways: their descriptions had a completely different structure than mine. The visual world is like a crossword puzzle: we all have the same puzzle but each of us solves it differently.”

    After working on the drawings for two years Muniz felt that his memory renderings were still not fully realized in their current state. In turn, he photographed the drawings and then gently manipulated the photos by softening their appearance. To further synthesize the series, he printed the photographs with a halftone screen that many publications use in printing. By bringing his memories of the iconic images back to their original state—photographs printed in halftone—viewers are able to recognize the images while simultaneously knowing they are more ‘pictures of thought’ than the actual photos themselves, bringing into question the veracity of our own memories of the images and events.

    As Muniz stated, “What I did with The Best of LIFE series was to make these very subjective, transparent images more objective and opaque by adding more interpretive layers.” This is a seminal series for the artist perfectly articulating his desires to not only explore his own fascination with visual memory, but to connect to all who experience the images.

    Titles include: Memory Rendering of 3-D Screening, 1989; Memory Rendering of John Lennon in Manhattan, 1989; Memory Rendering of Kiss at Times Square, 1989; Memory Rendering of John John, 1989; Memory Rendering of Tranbang Child, 1989; Memory Rendering of Flag Raising at Mount Subayachi, Iwo Jima, 1989; Memory Rendering of Saigon Execution of a Viet Cong Suspect, 1989; Memory Rendering of Kent State Shooting, 1989; Memory Rendering Of Man On The Moon, 1989; Memory Rendering Of Man Stopping Tank In Beijing, 1989


The Best of LIFE—Portfolio

The complete set of ten gelatin silver prints, printed 1995.
Varying dimensions from 6 3/4 x 5 in. (17.1 x 12.7 cm) to 7 x 10 1/4 in. (17.8 x 26 cm) or the reverse
Each signed, titled, dated and numbered 5/10 in pencil in the margin.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $150,000

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Vanessa Hallett
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New York 4 April 2017