Vik Muniz

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Vik Muniz
Vic Muniz World Economic Forum 2013.jpg
Muniz at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2013
Born Vicente José de Oliveira Muniz
(1961-12-20) December 20, 1961 (age 53)
Sao Paulo
Nationality Brazil
Known for Visual art

Vik Muniz (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvik muˈnis]; born in 1961, São Paulo, Brazil)[1] is a Brazilian artist and photographer. Initially a sculptor, Muniz grew interested with the photographic representations of his work, eventually focusing completely on photography. Primarily working in series, Muniz incorporates the use of quotidian objects such as diamonds, sugar, thread, chocolate syrup and garbage in his practice to create bold, ironic and often deceiving imagery, gleaned from the pages of pop culture and art history. His work has been met with both commercial success and critical acclaim, and has been exhibited worldwide. His solo show at MAM in Rio de Janeiro was second only to Picasso in attendance records.

In 2010, Muniz was featured in the documentary film Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, which featured Muniz's work on one of the world's largest garbage dumps, Jardim Gramacho, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The film was nominated to the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Academy Awards.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

At the age of 18, Muniz worked in advertising in Brazil, redesigning billboards for higher readability. While on the way to his first black-tie gala, Muniz witnessed and attempted to break up a street fight, where he was accidentally shot in the leg by one of the brawlers. He was paid by the shooter to not press charges, and used the money to travel to New York.

After his arrival in New York in 1983, Muniz's friend lent him a studio, and he started his career as a sculptor, resulting in his first solo exhibit in 1988.[4] In addition to sculpture, Muniz began experimenting with drawing and photography, ultimately combining these mediums in the series Sugar Children, which was featured in the Museum of Modern Art's New Photography 13 show, alongside Rineke Dijikstra, An-My Le, and Kunié Sugiura, in 1997.[5] In Sugar Children, Muniz photographed the families that worked on sugar plantations on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Beginning with Polaroids of several of the children of plantation workers, Muniz "drew" their images by sprinkling sugar on black paper and rephotographed these compositions.[4]

Works and philosophy[edit]

"Action Photo, After Hans Namuth", 1997

Muniz is best known for recreating famous imagery from art history and pop culture with unexpected, everyday objects, and photographing them.[6][7] For example, Muniz's Action Photo, After Hans Namuth (From Pictures of Chocolate), a Cibachrome print, is a Bosco Chocolate Syrup recreation of one of Hans Namuth's photographs of Jackson Pollock in his studio.[4] The monumental series Pictures of Cars (after Ruscha) is his social commentary of the car culture of Los Angeles utilizing Ed Ruscha's 60's Pop masterpieces rendered from car ephemeral.'

Muniz has spoken of wanting to make "color pictures that talked about color and also talked about the practical simplification of such impossible concepts". He has spoken of an interest in making pictures that "reveal their process and material structure", and describes himself as having been "a willing bystander in the middle of the shootout between structuralist and post-structuralist critique". He cites the mosaics in a church in Ravenna as one of his influences.[8]

Muniz says that when he takes photographs, he intuitively searches for "a vantage point that would make the picture identical to the ones in my head before I’d made the works", so that his photographs match those mental images.[9] He sees photography as having "freed painting from its responsibility to depict the world as fact".[8]


Selected exhibitions[edit]


Selected solo exhibitions[edit]


Vik Muniz and Ed Ruscha: Pictures of Car Parts Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, California. January 5, 2014 - April 15, 2015.


Vik Muniz: Pictures of Car Parts (after Ed Ruscha) Forre Fine Art, Aspen, Colorado. September 15, 2013 - July 15, 2014.

Vik Muniz. Clayton Days | Revisited: A Project by Vik Muniz. The Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. July 13 – October 27.

Vik Muniz. Museo Banco de la República. Bogota, Colombia. July 31 – October 28.


VIK. Centro de Arte Contemporánea de Málaga, Málaga, Spain, September 7 – December 2. (traveling exhibition)

VantagePoint X/Vik Muniz. Mint Museum Uptown, Charlotte, North Carolina. August 25 – April 28, 2013.


Vik Muniz. Le Musé Imaginaire. Collection Lambert en Avignon, Hôtel de Caumont & Église des Célestins, Avignon, France. December 11 – June 15, 2012.

VIK. Museu Colecção Berardo. Lisbon, Portugal. September 21 – December 31. (traveling exhibition)

Relicário. Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil. March 1 – April 24.

Vik Muniz 3D. Espaço Cultural Contemporâneo – ECCO, Brasília, Brazil. June 13 – August 21.


Relicário. Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. October 13 – December 5.

Vik Muniz. Museum of the University of Fortaleza/Unifor, Fundação Edson Queiroz, Ceará, Brazil. April 16 – August 8.


Vik Muniz. Museu Inimá de Paula. Minas Gerais, Brazil. August 21 – November 2.

Vik. Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP). São Paulo, Brazil. April 25 – July 19.

Vik Muniz. Museum of Modern Art (MAM). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. January 28 – March 22.

Vik Muniz. Museum of Modern Art (MAM). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. January 28 – March 22.

Vik Muniz. Museu Inimá de Paula. Minas Gerais, Brazil. August 21 – November 2.

Vik Muniz. Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. November 20 – March 10, 2010.


Vik Muniz: The Beautiful Earth. Tokyo Wonder Site. Tokyo, Japan. November 22 – March 1.

Vik Muniz Reflex. Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso. Mexico City, Mexico. March 11 – July 13.


Vik Muniz. Moscow House of Photography. Manezh, Russia. November 1 – December 2.

Vik Muniz Reflex. Museum of Contemporary Art. Montréal, Quebec, Canada. October 4, 2007 – January 6, 2008.

Vik Muniz Reflex. Museum of Contemporary Art. San Diego, California. June 2 – September 9.

The Beautiful Earth. Paço das Artes. São Paulo, Brazil. August 1 – October 7.

"Imaginary Prisons, G. B. Piranesi and Vik Muniz." National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne, Australia. April 19 – September 30.

Muniz Remastered, Photographs from the West Collection. Museo de Las Americas, Denver, CO. October 4-January 20, 2008.

Vik Muniz: A Survey. Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Kiev, Ukraine. April 13 – May 20.

Vik Muniz Reflex. P.S. 1. MoMA. Long Island City, NY. February 11 – May 7.

Pictures of People. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Gateshead, UK. January 31-April 15.


Vik Muniz Reflex. Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Washington. November 10 – January 14, 2007.

Vik Muniz Reflex. Contemporary Art Museum. University of South Florida. Tampa, Florida. July 7 – October 7.

Vik Muniz Reflex. Miami Art Museum. Miami, Florida. February 10 – May 28.


Vik Muniz. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Philadelphia, PA. September 17 – November 20.


Retratos de Revista. Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo, Brazil. January 24-March 28.

Piranesi Prisons. National Academy of Sciences. Washington D.C. August 1 – May 1, 2005.

Vik Muniz. Irish Museum of Contemporary Art. Dublin, Ireland. March 31 – June 13.

Vik Muniz. Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea-CGAC. Santiago de Compostela, Spain. December 18 – April 6, 2004.

Vik Muniz. Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma-MACRO. Rome, Italy. September 27-January 6, 2004.

Retratos de Revista. Paço Imperial. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. August14 – September14.


Vik Muniz. Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Centro Dragão do Mar. Ceará, Brazil.


Laberints, Spai 13, Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, Spain. June 21 – July 28.

Vik Muniz: Model Pictures, The Menil Collection, Houston. February 22 – June 9.

Reparte, CU Art Galleries, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. January 17 – March 23.


49th Venice Biennial: Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, Italy.

The Things Themselves: Pictures of Dust by Vik Muniz. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil.

MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA.


Clayton Days. The Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. September 8-October 29.

Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Foundation Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Vik Muniz. Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY.


Vik Muniz: Seeing is Believing. Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona. June 26 – September 26.

Vik Muniz. Centre National de la Photographie, Paris, France. November 17 – January 10, 2000.

Flora Industrialis. Caisse des Dépôts et Cossignations, Paris, France. November 19 -December 23.


Seeing is Believing. International Center of Photography, New York, NY.


The Sugar Children. Tricia Collins Contemporary Art, New York, NY.

The Best of Life. Wooster Gardens, New York, NY.

92 Home Alone. Claudio Botello Arte, Turin, Italy. April – May.


Vik Muniz – Photographs. Stux Gallery, New York, NY.

Curatorial projects[edit]

  • Buzz. Curated by Vik Muniz, Galeria Nara Roesler (Roesler Hotel #21), São Paulo, Brazil. December 1, 2012 – February 16, 2013.
  • Artist’s Choice: Vik Muniz, Rebus. MoMA – Museum of Modern Art. New York, NY. December 11, 2010 – February 23, 2009.
  • Rio de Janeiro Art Week, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 22 – 29, 2010.
  • Robert Mapplethorpe. Curated by Vik Muniz. Fortes Vilaça Gallery. São Paulo, Brazil. March 4 – April 9, 2009.
  • Haptic: Three Brazilian and Three Japanese Artists. Tokyo Wonder Site. Hongo, Tokyo, Japan. November 22, 2008 – January 12, 2009.
  • Robert Mapplethorpe. Curated by Vik Muniz. Fortes Vilaça Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil. March 4 – April 9, 2006.
  • L’Empire bresilien et ses photograhes: collections de la Bibliotheque nationale du Brésil et de L’Institute Moreira Salles. “L’horizont Perdu.” Musée d’Orsay, Paris. 2005.
  • Identity V. Curated by Hiroshi Minamishima. Nichido Contemporary Art. Tokyo, Japan. June 26 – July 25, 2005.
  • Vik Muniz. Curated by Miguel Fernandez-Cid. Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. Indianapolis, IN. February – March, 2003.
  • Beyond the Edges. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. 1998.
  • Making it Real. Catalogue ed. Independent Incorporated, NY. ICI – Independent Curators International, 1997 (traveling exhibition)


  • Ed Ruscha, Vik Muniz and the Car Culture of Los Angeles - Published by J. Carter Tutwiler, 2011
  • Vik Muniz: Complete Works 1987 - 2009 - Published by Capivara Editions, 2009
  • VIK. - Published by Aprazivel Editions, 2009
  • Reflex: A Vik Muniz Primer. - Published by Aperture, 2005
  • Vik Muniz - Published by Galleria Cardi & Co, 2005
  • Natura Pictrix: Interviews and Essays on Photography. - Published by Edgewise Press, Inc., 2003
  • Vik Muniz - Edited by Germano Celant, 2004
  • Vik Muniz - Published by Xunta de Galicia /CGAC, 2004
  • Vik Muniz: Incomplete Work - Published by Edições Biblioteca Nacional, 2003
  • Vik Muniz - Published by Galleria Cardi & Co., 2002
  • Vik Muniz: Model Pictures - Published by The Menil Foundation, 2002
  • Vik Muniz: Erotica - Published by Xippas Gallery, 2003
  • Vik Muniz: After Warhol - Published by Xippas Gallery, 2003
  • Vik Muniz: Clayton Days - Published by The Frick Art & Historical Center, 2000


2010 - Honored with the Ordem do Ipiranga[10] by the governor José Serra. São Paulo, Brazil, March 17.

2009 - Honored with the Prêmio Cidadão Carioca 2009 by the State of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Honored with the Medalha da Inconfidência[11] by the governor of Minas Gerais, Mr. Aécio Neves. Minas Gerais, Brazil, April 21.

2008 - Honored at CITYarts’ 40th Anniversary sponsored by Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson, Candia Fisher, Winston Fisher, and chaired by Jane Holzer. New York, NY.

2007 - Society for News Design Annual Creative Competition Award of Excellence in the category of Magazine Cover Design for the cover of The New York Times Magazine.

2005 - National Artist Award granted by the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Aspen, Colorado. Premio Villa de Madrid de Fotografía “Kaulak" 2005, awarded by the Ayuntamiento de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.

1999 - Líderes Latinoamericanos para el Nuevo Milenio. CNN Time. NY, USA.

1998 - Best Photography Exhibition, Second Place: Vik Muniz: Seeing is Believing. Awarded by The International Center of Photography and curated by Charles Stainback.


"The habit of looking at clouds, searching for forms, although considered a popular infantile pastime, is a perfect example of the intellectual engagement. A cloud may look like a taxman if you owe the IRS."(Vik Muniz, Reflex, A Vik Muniz Primer, Aperture Foundation, 2005). 39 “The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it."[12]

"My strategic obsession has something to do with finding a dynamic to negotiate between the whole and its infinite number of parts.[8]

"Photography, my dearest, beloved muse, is perhaps the primary culprit, in the process of degeneration of visual education since its invention."[8]

"To a desert island, I would bring the Library of Congress and its cafeteria. It holds one billion books, so I would be fine over there. Oh, and I would have the New York Times delivered daily."[13]

"Whenever I am tired of making photographs of drawings, I make drawings of photographs."[14]

"Fortunately, my generation has increasingly come to terms with its “inner child", and publicly given in to the irresistible appeal of toys. (…) The success of products such as the iMac, Volkswagen’s New Beetle, and Philippe Starck’s furniture are good examples of this trend."[14]

"I've always been fond of 19th-century art. In the nineteenth century photography was invented; in the nineteenth century machines and the whole spectrum of social life, the reconfiguration of the family came into being. Even though I was born in the twentieth century, everything that has ruled and structured my life and my knowledge of society has been based upon ideas that were primarily developed during the previous century.”[15]

"The moment we write down an idea, we kill it – we take it out of the garden, and place it in a vase. I keep cultivating my ideas like in a garden: some of them die, some others I water so they remain beautiful. Some others cross my mind accidentally."[16]

"I have always been interested in the circus and street magicians, the kind of entertainment that counts on the poorest kind of illusion-effects and demands enormous amounts of belief and imagination. Things that allow the viewer to exercise his human qualities rather than admire those of the artist."[17]

"I’m the Hugo Chaves of art world; I want to make something populist, to make something that anybody has access to".[18]

"I have always wondered how other people see things. My motivation in making art is this negotiation with the viewer about the way we perceive the visual world. It is as if I do not trust myself. The artist only does half of the work; the viewer has to come up with the rest – it is by empowering the viewer that art achieves its miraculous force. The artist must not please, but should always challenge the viewer in this engagement, and must never say that he is working for himself only. I make art so I can watch people looking at it. I watch their faces smiling or frowning, hear their comments and complaints – and it is never the way I imagined it would be, as I was contemplating the work. I become aware of how particular, how unique everyone is. The world becomes a kaleidoscope."[19]


  1. ^ "Vik Muniz Bio". Vik Muniz. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Waste Land". wastelandmovie. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Ryzik, Melena (February 2, 2011). "Documentary Drama at the Oscars". The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Kino, Carol. "Where Art Meets Trash and Transforms Life". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  5. ^ Museum of Modern Art, New Photography 13,
  6. ^ Respini, Eva Vik Muniz: Painting with Chocolate Retrieved Aug, 6 2013
  7. ^ Smith, Roberta (September 15, 2011). "Vik Muniz: Pictures of Magazines 2". New York Times. Over the years he has remade, and then photographed, Corot landscapes from thread, Marilyn Monroe from diamonds, various Process Art pieces from dust and, perhaps most famously, sugar cane child laborers from sugar. Other works have employed luncheon meat, chocolate, coins, wire, spices, junk, tiny toys, dominoes and dry pigment. 
  8. ^ a b c d Vik Muniz and Juan Uslé - "En el sombrero de copa, o de cristal": una conversación. Catalog. Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Malaga, September, 2012
  9. ^ Vik Muniz, Reflex, A Vik Muniz Primer, Aperture Foundation, 2005.
  10. ^ pt:Ordem do Ipiranga
  11. ^ pt:Medalha da Inconfidência
  12. ^ Where Art Meets Trash and Transforms Life, Carol Kino, The New York Times, October 21st 2010
  13. ^ V Magazine, Tania Menai, Brazil, October Edition, 2006.
  14. ^ a b Vik Muniz, Reflex, A Vik Muniz Primer, Aperture Foundation, 2005.
  15. ^ Vik Muniz, “Picture Stories" - interview by Linda Benedict-Jones in conjunction with the exhibition Clayton Days. The Frick Art Museum, Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2000.
  16. ^ O Melhor Emprego do Mundo, Tania Menai, Icaro In-flight Magazine, Brazil, August Edition, 2003.
  17. ^ Vik Muniz to Peter Galassi, Natura Pictrix, Interview and Essays on Photography, Edgewise, 1999.
  18. ^ Pictures of Junk Series: An interview with Vik Muniz on Vimeo, Rena Bransten Gallery, April 2006.
  19. ^ Vik Muniz, Reflex, A Vik Muniz Primer, Aperture Foundation, 2005

External links[edit]