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.
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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The Best Art of 2019: Where Knowledge and Beauty MeetKaren Wilkin, The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2019
Fast Days, Slow Company: The Art of Vija CelminsLarissa Pham, The Nation, December 11, 2019
Best Art of 2019Roberta Smith, Holland Cotter and Jason Farago, The New York Times, December 6, 2019
Be Transfixed by Vija Celmins’ Simple, Hypnotic Renderings at the Met BreuerCraig Hubert, Observer, September 23, 2019
Billionaires Are Begging to Buy This Art. Too BadJames Tarmy, Bloomberg, September 10, 2019
Vija Celmins’s Surface MattersCalvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, August 26, 2019