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Past Exhibitions

Double Mona Lisa (Peanut Butter and Jelly), from the After Warhol series, 1999

Vik Muniz

February 28–August 21, 2016

Vik Muniz (Brazilian-American, born 1961) is distinguished as one of the most innovative and creative artists of our time. Endlessly playful and inventive in his approach, Muniz harnesses a remarkable virtuosity in creating his renowned “photographic delusions.”

Overview

Vik Muniz is an innovative artist who creates imagery within a nexus of diverse media. Working with a dizzying array of unconventional materials—including sugar, tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust, and junk—Muniz painstakingly builds tableaux before recording them with his camera. From a distance, the subject of each resulting photograph is discernible; up close, the work reveals a complex and surprising matrix through which it was assembled. That revelatory moment when one thing transforms into another is of deep interest to the artist.

Muniz’s work often quotes iconic images from popular culture and art history, drawing on our sense of collective memory while defying easy classification and mischievously engaging a viewer’s process of perception. His more recent work incorporates electron microscopes and manipulates microorganisms to explore issues of scale and to unveil both the familiar and the strange in spaces that are typically inaccessible to the human eye.

This major mid-career retrospective canvasses more than twenty-five years of Muniz’s work to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, reminding us of the power of art to surprise, delight, and transform our perceptions of the world.

The Original Copy

Great artists of every age have copied the work of their predecessors and, in the act of appropriation, have created remarkably fresh originals with distinct identities. Muniz has continued this tradition of copying as a legitimate creative act, learning from his close study of centuries of artistic practice. In this gallery, he playfully and skillfully re-creates work by some of art history’s greatest painters, harnessing a diverse set of materials to interpret compositions by Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, and Andy Warhol.

Muniz’s use of garbage and junk as building materials for his compositions is particularly celebrated. To make his Pictures of Junk and Pictures of Garbage series, he placed his camera on a platform raised by a crane high above a warehouse floor. Using the open space below as a canvas, he arranged debris into sculptural compositions that re-created mythological scenes and famous paintings when seen from the camera’s elevated vantage point. The resulting photographs remain the only permanent record of these astounding creations.

Organization and Support

Vik Muniz is co-organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/New York City/Paris/Lausanne, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. The exhibition in Atlanta is made possible with support from The Donald and Marilyn Keough Family.