Vija Celmins

The only comprehensive monograph on the virtuoso painter.

Survey by Lane Relyea, Interview by Robert Gober, Focus by Briony Fer, Artist's Choice by Jorge Luis Borges, Writings by Vija Celmins


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The magnificent artworks of the Latvia-born, U.S.-based Vija Celmins (b.1938) all testify to her undying fascination with the world around her - whether commonplace objects in her studio, the natural landscapes of her adopted California, or the pebbles beneath her feet. Primarily a painter of still life and landscape, Celmins is associated with 1960s Pop art and often uses photographs to create her signature 'impossible images', such as just-fired revolvers or exploding airplanes.

Temporarily abandoning painting in the 1970s, Celmins turned her attention to drawing exquisite graphite seascapes and other vast natural landscapes. Like the night skies she began in the 1980s, the artist explains, hers are 'unbound spaces' wrestled into two-dimensions. As with her later spider webs, Celmins often blurs the boundaries of photography, painting, printmaking and drawing.

Now based in New York, Celmins has exhibited widely since the 1960s in museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the ICA, London; Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt.

In the Interview noted artist Robert Gober speaks with Celmins about their differing studio habits and the sources behind her work. Critic Lane Relyea surveys the artist's long and unique career with emphasis on her formative early paintings. Art historian and theorist Briony Fer in her Focus takes a deep look into Night Sky no. 19 (1998). In parallel to Celimins' own limitless depiction of the world, the Artist's Choice is Jorge Luis Borges' tale Funes the Memorious, about the vastness of human memory. Arists Writings include excerpts from her important 1991 interview with artist Chuck Close.


Format: Paperback
Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)
Pages: 160 pp
Illustrations: 150 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714842646

Lane Relyea is Assistant Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University, Chicago. His essays and reviews have appeared in Artforum, Parkett and Frieze, and his major contributions to exhibition catalogues include Helter Skelter (1992) and Public Offerings (2001), both at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Robert Gober is among the most important American artists to have emerged in the 1980s. Primarily a sculptor and installation artist, Gober's handcrafted works - often based on familiar domestic objects - have been the object of major exhibitions, at, among others, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1997); the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, and the Reina Sofia, Madrid (both 1991); and the Art Institute of Chicago (1988). In 2001 Gober represented the United States at the Venice Biennale.

Briony Fer is Reader in History of Art at University College London. Her books include On Abstract Art (1997) and The Infinite Line (2004). Fer has written on a wide range of artists including Hanne Darboven, Rachel Whiteread and Eva Hesse.

"A superb addition to an addictive series."—Time Out

On the Contemporary Artists Series

"The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about."—Artforum

"The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art."—Time Out

"A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists."—The Sunday Times

"Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment."—The Art Book

"A superb addition to an addictive series."—Time Out



Richard Deacon
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Paul Graham
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