Vija Celmins


Since the 1960s, Latvian-born artist Vija Celmins (born 1938) has been creating photorealistic paintings, prints, and drawings, using her own photographs as well as those culled from books and magazines as models.

Celmins is best known for her similarly precise depictions of nature, illusionistically rendering images of oceans, spider webs, night skies, and desert surfaces in a palette of grays and blacks. In addition to her paintings and works on paper, Celmins has also created painted trompe l'oeil sculptures: in the late 1960s, she replicated common objects, such as pencil stubs, in painted wood. Later, she began exhibiting her copies alongside the actual objects upon which they had been based, as in one of her most iconic three-dimensional works. 

Celmins's work has been the subject of several major exhibitions internationally, including retrospectives at the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Institute of Contemporary Art London, the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Centre Pompidou.


Related Works

  • Contemporary painter Zhang Xiaogang also filters black-and-white photographic imagery through his monochrome painting style, though his subjects are often more surreal than their photorealistic frame. View his work.



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