1964 Was a Great Year for Vija Celmins
|Vija Celmins, Lamp #1, 1964|
Celmins is best known for contemplative drawings and paintings of starscapes, ocean surfaces, and spiderwebs. Most were created after her move to New York in 1981. The chronological hang at the Met Breuer reminds visitors how compelling Celmins' art was from the outset. In 1964, the year before she graduated from UCLA, Celmins began a series of paintings of banal consumer goods in her Venice studio. Verging on monochrome, these paintings resist identification as still lifes. Celmins was long pigeonholed as a Pop artist, yet her work doesn't seem to say much about consumerism and exists on a different emotional register from Pop.
|Vija Celmins, Heater, 1964|
At her 1979 show at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, Celmins chose Lamp #1 (1964) as the first painting visitors would see. The paired lamps look like eyes. Rather than a visual gag, or Pop irony, the effect is one of jamais vu—the uncanny sensation that familiar objects are strange.
|Vija Celmins, Envelope, 1964|
|Vija Celmins, Gun with Hand #1, 1964|
|Vija Celmins, T.V., 1964|