Vik Muniz - Photographs London Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Xippas, Paris

  • Literature

    P. Corrêa do Lago, ed., Vik Muniz Obra Completa, 1987-2009: Catálogo Raisonné, Rio de Janeiro: Capivara Editora Ltda., 2009, p. 326

  • Catalogue Essay

    It was the discovery and subsequent loss of his copy of the book, The Best of Life, in the late 1980s that sparked Vik Muniz’s artistic investigations into imagery and reproduction. Re-creating the iconic images from Life magazine by sketching from his own recollection, the resulting ‘Memory Renderings’ illustrated the extraordinary power of media imagery to imprint itself upon the public conscience.
    Displaying the playful approach and healthy disregard for conventional materials that have since become his trademark, Muniz later exchanged pencil for wire or thread to ‘draw’ images as disparate but recognisable as a Constable masterpiece to the outline of a chair. While the mutable properties of the materials injected the work with a sense of movement and narrative, his decision to photograph the result became as integral to his work as the constructions themselves.
    As seen in the current lot, Muniz’s technique developed to incorporate materials whose physical properties not only present a challenge in themselves, but whose relationship to the subject matter carry particular significance. Following experiments working with sugar, the series Pictures of Chocolate utilises a material loaded with strong and often conflicting psychological and physical implications, from the romantic and desirable to the scatological. The tension between material and meaning employed throughout Muniz’s work is at its most powerful here, where the glossy, desirable surface of the chocolate subverts the violent imagery of the content to powerful effect.
    Made by meticulously dripping syrup on to white plastic and photographing the formation and rapid dissolution of the image, Chocolate Disaster reproduces Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster series of the early 1960s. The rare use of multiple panels make direct reference to Warhol’s infamous comments on repetition: as the chocolate melts and obscures the subject entirely, so Warhol’s comments on the anaesthetising effects of media, that “the more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away” are played out. By appropriating the master of appropriation, the individual who has had defined the relationship between art and contemporary culture as it is understood today, this work is a strong example of the esteemed position that Muniz now holds in his own right.


Chocolate Disaster from Pictures of Chocolate

Polyptych comprising seven dye destruction prints, each flush-mounted.
Each 75.5 x 95.5 cm (29 3/4 x 37 5/8 in).
One signed, titled, dated and numbered in ink on a gallery label affixed to the reverse of the flush-mount. One from an edition of 3 plus 3 artist's proofs.

£50,000 - 70,000 ‡ ♠


3 November 2011