Artist Feature: Vik Muniz
Vik Muniz’s photography embraces the painterly and sculptural with his unique process. He uses unconventional materials and found objects to create expressive images that often reference the work of the Old Masters, which he then photographs. Muniz’s pieces use anything from chocolate syrup to dust to diamonds to compose his subjects, and his finished pieces often take on the appearance of mosaics.
After Muniz creates his pieces, he photographs them and destroys the originals, so that only the photo lives on. Although his pieces often copy existing images or works of art, they take on a new and individual appearance, reinterpreting what the images mean and what social position they hold.
Muniz was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to a working-class family. As a child, he struggled with writing, so he turned to visual art to express himself clearly. In his teens, Muniz witnessed a street fight that he attempted to break up. He was accidentally shot in the leg by one of the men involved and paid off so he wouldn’t press charges.
He used the money to travel to Chicago, where he stayed for a year, learning several languages. He then moved to NYC, where he started practicing art full time. He had his first solo show at the young age of 28 and has since been exhibited internationally.
Vik Muniz | Art by Kat Sampson
“The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it.”
Muniz’s photography is based on pre-existing images, but he removes them from reality by abstracting and fragmenting them in his unique sculpting and object painting process. By photographing them again in this form, he makes a statement about the reality and stability of any well-known image.
Through an image’s popularity and circulation, it loses some of its meaning and becomes different in the mind of each person that perceives it. Vik Muniz shows this through his recreations, questioning the currency of visual culture and authenticity paid to any image or piece of art.
In collaboration with Kat Sampson, we present The Not Just Dead White Guys coloring book with 24 vibrant portraits, showcasing diverse artists, both deceased and living. Half are contemporary artists, including Vik Muniz who are shaping the art scene today, while the others are important historical figures. Join us to celebrate their diverse contributions and create a more inclusive art world!
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