Vija Celmins is an American-Latvian contemporary artist known for her photo-based drawings and paintings of the ocean, rocks, spider webs, and stars in the night sky. “There aren't really rules for painting, but there’s certain facts and fictions about painting,” she has explained. “Part of what I do is document another surface and sort of translate it. They’re like translations, and then part of it is fiction, which is invention.” Born on October 25, 1938 in Riga, Latvia, her family fled the Soviet occupation of Latvia only to arrive in Nazi Germany. Emigrating with her family to Indianapolis after World War II, she studied at the John Herron School of Art and Design and was awarded a fellowship to Yale’s Norfolk Summer School of Art where she befriended Chuck Close and Brice Marden. Celmins’s early work was marked by the influence of Pop Art, which led her to make detailed drawings and paintings of newspaper photos. Her Untitled (Big Sea) series of laboriously drawn ocean surfaces brought her acclaim, with critics drawing comparisons to Gerhard Richter. She has been the subject of over 40 solo exhibitions since 1965, including retrospectives at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Celmins currently lives and works in New York, NY. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others.Read More +
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