Matthew Marks Gallery

Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins has long been admired for her meticulous renderings of natural imagery, including ocean waves, desert floors, and night skies. Her paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints depict scenes that are too vast or mercurial to be fixed in the mind’s eye. She first became interested in representing the visible world during the early 1960s, when she began to paint the objects in her Los Angeles studio — a lamp, a hot-plate, a heater, and other fixtures of everyday life — before turning her attention to photographs found in magazines and history books. By the end of the 1960s, when she first developed her all-over compositions of waves, rocks, and celestial bodies, she had set aside paint on canvas in favor of graphite on paper. When she began painting again in the 1980s, drawing and printmaking remained central to her art. Regarding her commitment to the material aspects of her process, Celmins has said, “I believe if there is any meaning in art, it resides in the physical presence of a work.”

Vija Celmins (b. 1938) was born in Riga, Latvia, and immigrated to the United States with her family in the late 1940s. She studied at the John Herron School of Art in Indiana and at Yale University before moving to Los Angeles in 1962 to pursue a master’s degree at UCLA. Celmins remained in Los Angeles until 1981, when she moved to New York, where she currently lives and works. In 1992 the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia organized the first retrospective of her work. Since then she has had one-person exhibitions at numerous museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Menil Collection in Houston. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1996 and received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1997.

Selected Works

Exhibitions

VIJA CELMINS
Ocean Prints

September 13–October 26, 2019

526 West 22nd Street
New York

VIJA CELMINS

January 27–March 31, 2018

1062 North Orange Grove
7818 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles

VIJA CELMINS

February 10–April 22, 2017

522 West 22nd Street
New York

Group Exhibitions

ONE HUNDRED DRAWINGS

November 8, 2019–January 18, 2020

523 West 24th Street
New York

PAINTING: NOW AND FOREVER, PART III

June 28–August 17, 2018

522 West 22nd Street
523 West 24th Street
526 West 22nd Street
New York

VIJA CELMINS, THOMAS DEMAND, ELLSWORTH KELLY, KEN PRICE, PAUL SIETSEMA, REBECCA WARREN, TERRY WINTERS

February 6–April 16, 2016

522 West 22nd Street
New York

THE FOUNDATION FOR ART AND PRESERVATION IN EMBASSIES'
Lee Kimche McGrath Original Print Collection

October 6–October 13, 2012

7818 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles

SMALL SCULPTURE

September 23–October 28, 2006

523 West 24th Street
New York

OPEN SECRETS
Seventy Pictures on Paper, 1815 to the Present

November 19–December 28, 1996

523 West 24th Street
New York

AN EXHIBITION TO BENEFIT ACT-UP
The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power

December 5–December 21, 1991

1018 Madison Avenue
New York

Books

VIJA CELMINS

ONE HUNDRED DRAWINGS

OPEN SECRETS
Seventy Pictures on Paper, 1815 to the Present

Posters

VIJA CELMINS

out of print

PAINTING: NOW AND FOREVER, PART III