Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz

03.05.12 08.09.12

Xippas Geneva Past

The Xippas gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in Geneva by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, presenting a selection of his renowned series: « Gordian Puzzles », « Pictures of Paper », « Pictures of Pigments », « Diamonds Divas », « Pictures of Magazine », as well as his more recent works.
Vik Muniz’ photographs appear to be like those of a prestidigitator or of a virtuoso whose actions at first sight are not related to photography. Working with varied materials such as sewing thread, jam, chocolate, ketchup, dust, toys, etc., chosen for their relationship to the image they depict, he reconstructs pictures which refer to art history, to the media and to our visual memory which has assembled them. By photographing these visual creations, Vik Muniz dissolves the original work and confronts us with an illusionary representation which is constructed artificially. This is evident beginning with the landscapes of sewing thread which take up well-known 19th century paintings, the fetish pictures of Warhol in chocolate shown for the first time in 1999 during an exhibition at the Xippas gallery; the “Pictures of Dust” made for his exhibition at the Whitney Museum, the “Pictures of Colour” and the “Pictures of Air” of the Venice Biennale; through the pictures of diamonds and caviar from the series “Diamond Divas” and “Caviar Monsters” presented during his previous exhibition at the Xippas gallery in 2004.

During the process of creation, Vik Muniz playfully and ironically takes up different roles – those of painter, sculptor, photographer and theoretician. In reinforcing our feeling of familiarity, Vik Muniz deceives us. While at fisrt sight his work at first sight leaves us with an impression of sensuality and ambiguity, it actually questions the very process of visual perception. He wants us to be doubtful, critical and analytical: “Vision is first of all a form of intelligence, and recognition or identification a sort of comfort.” Although his pictures appear familiar, they indeed unsettle the process of identification.


Vik Muniz was born in 1961 in Sao Paulo. He left Brazil in 1984 and settled in New York in 1986. His first sculptures trompe l’oeil show for example a deflated soccer ball in bronze painted so as to resemble the original object, or a “Clown Skull” in a plastic mould with a round nose which looks as if it had been found in an archaeological dig. In 1988, he lost his copy of the book “The Best of Life” and then started drawing the pictures he liked best, photographing them afterwards. The questions raised here about the essence of vision and the role of photography are at the roots of his approach. He now exclusively focuses on photography and explores the status of visual representation. In 2011, the Oscar-nominated documentory « Waste Land », directed by L. Walker, followed the artist Vik Muniz in his artistic collaboration with the catadores, pickers of recyclable materials on one of the world’s largest landfills, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Since 1989, he has had many international exhibitions: International Center of Photography in New York (1998); Museu de Arte Moderna in Sao Paulo and the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio Janeiro (2001); the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2001); the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona (2002); the Menil Collection in Houston (2002); the Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporánea in Santiago de Compostela in Spain (2003); the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rome (2003); the Fundaciòn Telefonica in Madrid (2004) and the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art in Dublin (2004). In 2001, he represented Brazil at the 49th Biennale in Venice.

The Miami Art Museum has shown a retrospective of his work, Vik Muniz: Reflex, all over the United States and Canada. At the University of South Florida (June-October 2006); Seattle Art Museum (November 2006-January 2007); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (June-September 2007); Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal (January- March 2008). Recently: Colecçao Berardo Museum, Lisbon (2011); Lambert Collection, Avignon (2012).


Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris – France

Centro Cultural Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain

Dallas Museum of Art, Texas – USA

Daros Latin America, Zürich – Switzerland

Guggenheim Museum, New York – USA

Los Angeles County Museum, L.A. – USA

Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, L.A. – USA

Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo – Brazil

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC – USA

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California – USA

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – USA

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – USA

The Museum of Modern Art, New York – USA

The Tate Gallery, London – UK

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York – USA

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