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Profile: Vija Celmins
Affiliated Movements: Conceptual Art. Minimalism, Pop Art

Affiliated Artists:
Marcel Duchamp
Andy Warhol
Carl André
Robert Smithson
Richard Serra
Anish Kapoor

* The placement of other artists in the same category is purely for didactic purposes - any number alternate criteria could result in a different choice. This list is chosen by suggesting other artists, mostly working at the same point in time and whose work might evoke similar questions in the viewer.

Portrait of Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins:
Beyond Rendering

Apart from being an incredibly accomplished 'technician', which is perhaps MOST of the reason that attention is bestowed upon Vija Celmins, there is a tenacious - even obsessive quality seen in her works - at least in the aggregate.  And so, syntactically - they fascinate. That is to say that seeing a collection of her work over time is rewarding... to explore the variations in treatment, framing, subject matter and technique. And it is a fascinating exploration, a controlled one at that, into the psyche of an artist and a human being. This is perhaps the most powerful aspect of her work -and the aspect that you will RARELY hear being talked about.  This is where we discuss thematics.  There are several enduring themes running through her work which appear time an again - all loosely intimating a sense of mortality - the ocean(water)... the night sky... the spider web... disasters.  The universality of such existential tropes resonate soundly with all of us.

But it's not even so simple. The degree to which craft is exercised embeds a layer of communication, a layer of intimacy - in her work which is all but absent in the conceptual musings of the last 20-30 years of efforts by our best artists.  She exposes us to a level of mastery and that is haunting that we wish not acknowledge nor discuss because it's not convenient to the narrative of the 'contemporary'. I think that Celmins' work provides a reminder of the soulful aspect of art that is all too often missing these decades. It is a challlenge that needs to be answered.

Vija Celmins- Leap into the Void (Saut dans le Vide)

The 'Ocean' Paintings
Vija Celmins- Ocean 2003Ocean , 2003 Vija Celmins- Ocean 2005Ocean , 2005 vija celmins- ocean 1975Ocean, 1975 Vija Celmins- monocrhome painting IKB22 Blue 1957Ocean Surface I, 2006
Vija Celmins- monocrhome painting IKB Blue 1961Ocean with Cross I, 2005
Vija Celmins- monocrhome painting IKB Blue 1961Ocean SurfaceI, 2000
Vija Celmins- monocrhome painting IKB Blue 1961Big Sea I, 1969 Vija Celmins- monocrhome painting IKB45 Blue 1960Big Sea II, 1969


Vija Celmins- monocrhome painting IKB Blue 1961 to left: Large Desert, 1975. Collection of JP Morgan Chase.

The 'Night Sky' Paintings
Vija Celmins- Night Sky 2000Night Sky , 2000 Vija Celmins- December 1984December 1984 , 1985 vija celmins- mount holyoke 1987Mount Holyoke 1987, 1987 Vija Celmins-   night sky 19Night Sky 19, 1998
Vija Celmins- Night Sky - WoodcutNight Sky Woodcut, 1997
Vija Celmins- Untitled Night Sky 8 WoodcutUntitled No.8, Woodcut
Vija Celmins-  Night Sky Reversed I, 2002Night Sky Reversed I, 2002 Vija Celmins- Night Sky Reversed II, 2005Night Sky Reversed II, 2005

Other Media


written and edited by JWD


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