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
Vicente José de Oliveira Muniz

(1961-12-20) December 20, 1961 (age 56)
Sao Paulo, Brazil
ResidenceNew York City, New York, U.S.
Known forVisual 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.

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]

Vik Muniz received a scholarship to art school because of his drawings.[4] 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, which resulted in his first solo exhibit in 1988.

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. 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. 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 ephemera. Muniz often works on a large scale and then he destroys the originals of his work and only the photo of his work remains.[5]

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.

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. He sees photography as having "freed painting from its responsibility to depict the world as fact".

Appropriation Art[edit]

Vik Muniz cites many people as his inspirations. He is a self-proclaimed student of Buster Keaton.[5] He decided to become an artist after seeing the works of the Postmodernist artists, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons.[4] Muniz, like both of these artists, also reworks popular imagery in his work. Muniz says that he does not believe in originals. Rather, he states that he believes in individuality.[5] Muniz works to repurpose themes and showcase these old themes in a different light for the viewer.[6]

In Muniz's earthworks series, Pictures of Earthworks, show a strong resemblance to the 1970s Earthworks movement. However unlike the Earthworks movement, that were influenced by ancient cultures, Muniz's series shows distinct human impact on nature.[7]

Critiques and social practices[edit]

In addition to sculpting, 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. 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. Muniz has faced criticism for profiting off his portrait subjects who are living in poverty.[4] This criticism is mainly directed towards his Sugar Children series, where scholars have pointed out that he photographs of subjects continuing to live in poverty and yet can make upwards of 5 figures on these works at auction. After his Pictures in Garbage series, Muniz donated the profits, close to $50,000, from the Marat (Sebastiao) to the workers collective after it was auctioned in the UK. He takes high resolution photographs of his works that are made of non-traditional materials.[8] He tries to make art more accessible through the use of common materials, because of his belief that the art world should not be just for the elite.[9] Muniz stated in the documentary Waste Land "I'm at this point in my career where I'm trying to step away from the realm of fine arts because I think it's a very exclusive, very restrictive place to be. What I want to be able to do is to change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day."[4]


  • Vik Muniz: Clayton Days – Published by The Frick Art & Historical Center, 2000
  • Vik Muniz: After Warhol – Published by Xippas Gallery, 2003
  • Vik Muniz: Erotica – Published by Xippas Gallery, 2003
  • Vik Muniz: Model Pictures – Published by The Menil Foundation, 2002
  • Vik Muniz – Published by Galleria Cardi & Co., 2002
  • Vik Muniz: Incomplete Work – Published by Edições Biblioteca Nacional, 2003
  • Vik Muniz – Published by Xunta de Galicia /CGAC, 2004
  • Vik Muniz – Edited by Germano Celant, 2004
  • Natura Pictrix: Interviews and Essays on Photography. – Published by Edgewise Press, Inc., 2003
  • Vik Muniz – Published by Galleria Cardi & Co, 2005
  • Reflex: A Vik Muniz Primer. - Published by Aperture, 2005
  • VIK. – Published by Aprazivel Editions, 2009
  • Vik Muniz: Complete Works 1987 – 2009 – Published by Capivara Editions, 2009
  • Ed Ruscha, Vik Muniz and the Car Culture of Los Angeles – Published by J. Carter Tutwiler, 2011
  • Vik Muniz: Everything So Far – Published by Capivara Editions, 2015
  • Vik Muniz – Published by Prestel, 2016

Curatorial projects[edit]

  • Making it Real. Catalogue ed. Independent Incorporated, NY. ICI – Independent Curators International, 1997 (traveling exhibition)
  • Beyond the Edges. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. 1998.
  • Vik Muniz. Curated by Miguel Fernandez-Cid. Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. Indianapolis, IN. February – March, 2003.
  • Identity V. Curated by Hiroshi Minamishima. Nichido Contemporary Art. Tokyo, Japan. June 26 – July 25, 2005.
  • 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.
  • Robert Mapplethorpe. Curated by Vik Muniz. Fortes Vilaça Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil. March 4 – April 9, 2006.
  • 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, 2009.
  • Rio de Janeiro Art Week, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. July 22 – 29, 2010.
  • Artist’s Choice: Vik Muniz, Rebus. MoMA – Museum of Modern Art. New York, NY. December 11, 2010 – February 23, 2009.
  • Buzz. Curated by Vik Muniz, Galeria Nara Roesler (Roesler Hotel #21), São Paulo, Brazil. December 1, 2012 – February 16, 2013.

1998 – Best Photography Exhibition, Second Place: Vik Muniz: Seeing is Believing. Awarded by The International Center of Photography and curated by Charles Stainback.[citation needed] 1999 – Líderes Latinoamericanos para el Nuevo Milenio. CNN Time. NY, USA.[citation needed] 2005 – National Artist Award granted by the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Aspen, Colorado.[10] 2005 – Premio Villa de Madrid de Fotografía “Kaulak" 2005, awarded by the Ayuntamiento de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.[citation needed] 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.[11] 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.[citation needed] 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[12] by the governor of Minas Gerais, Mr. Aécio Neves. Minas Gerais, Brazil, April 21. 2010 – Honored with the pt:Ordem do Ipiranga by the governor José Serra. São Paulo, Brazil, March 17.[citation needed] 2013 – Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

Solo exhibitions (selected)[edit]

  • 1989: Vik Muniz – Photographs. Stux Gallery, New York, NY.
  • 1996: 92 Home Alone. Claudio Botello Arte, Turin, Italy. April – May.
  • 1996: The Best of Life. Wooster Gardens, New York, NY.
  • 1996: The Sugar Children. Tricia Collins Contemporary Art, New York, NY.
  • 1998: Seeing is Believing. International Center of Photography, New York, NY.
  • 1999: Flora Industrialis. Caisse des Dépôts et Cossignations, Paris, France. November 19 -December 23.
  • 1999: Vik Muniz. Centre National de la Photographie, Paris, France. November 17 – January 10, 2000.
  • 1999: Vik Muniz: Seeing is Believing. Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona. June 26 – September 26.
  • 2000: Vik Muniz. Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY.
  • 2000: Foundation Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 2000: Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • 2000: Clayton Days. The Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. September 8 – October 29.
  • 2001: Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA.
  • 2001: MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • 2001: MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 2001: The Things Themselves: Pictures of Dust by Vik Muniz. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
  • 2001: 49th Venice Biennial: Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, Italy.
  • 2002: Reparte, CU Art Galleries, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. January 17 – March 23.
  • 2002: Vik Muniz: Model Pictures, The Menil Collection, Houston. February 22 – June 9.
  • 2002: Laberints, Spai 13, Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, Spain. June 21 – July 28.
  • 2003: Vik Muniz. Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Centro Dragão do Mar. Ceará, Brazil.
  • 2004: Retratos de Revista. Paço Imperial. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. August14 – September14.
  • 2004: Vik Muniz. Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma-MACRO. Rome, Italy. September 27 – January 6, 2004.
  • 2004: Vik Muniz. Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea-CGAC. Santiago de Compostela, Spain. December 18 – April 6, 2004.
  • 2004: Vik Muniz. Irish Museum of Contemporary Art. Dublin, Ireland. March 31 – June 13.
  • 2004: Piranesi Prisons. National Academy of Sciences. Washington D.C. August 1 – May 1, 2005.
  • 2004: Retratos de Revista. Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo, Brazil. January 24 – March 28.
  • 2005: Vik Muniz. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Philadelphia, PA. September 17 – November 20.
  • 2006: Vik Muniz Reflex. Miami Art Museum. Miami, Florida. February 10 – May 28.
  • 2006: Vik Muniz Reflex. Contemporary Art Museum. University of South Florida. Tampa, Florida. July 7 – October 7.
  • 2006: Vik Muniz Reflex. Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Washington. November 10 – January 14, 2007.
  • 2007: Pictures of People. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Gateshead, UK. January 31 – April 15.
  • 2007: Vik Muniz Reflex. P.S. 1. MoMA. Long Island City, NY. February 11 – May 7.
  • 2007: Vik Muniz: A Survey. Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Kiev, Ukraine. April 13 – May 20.
  • 2007: Muniz Remastered, Photographs from the West Collection. Museo de Las Americas, Denver, CO. October 4 – January 20, 2008.
  • 2007: "Imaginary Prisons, G. B. Piranesi and Vik Muniz." National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne, Australia. April 19 – September 30.
  • 2007: The Beautiful Earth. Paço das Artes. São Paulo, Brazil. August 1 – October 7.
  • 2007: Vik Muniz Reflex. Museum of Contemporary Art. San Diego, California. June 2 – September 9.
  • 2007: Vik Muniz Reflex. Museum of Contemporary Art. Montréal, Quebec, Canada. October 4, 2007 – January 6, 2008.
  • 2007: Vik Muniz. Moscow House of Photography. Manezh, Russia. November 1 – December 2.
  • 2008: Vik Muniz Reflex. Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso. Mexico City, Mexico. March 11 – July 13.
  • 2008: Vik Muniz: The Beautiful Earth. Tokyo Wonder Site. Tokyo, Japan. November 22 – March 1.
  • 2009: Vik Muniz. Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. November 20 – March 10, 2010.
  • 2009: Vik Muniz. Museu Inimá de Paula. Minas Gerais, Brazil. August 21 – November 2.
  • 2009: Vik Muniz. Museum of Modern Art (MAM). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. January 28 – March 22.
  • 2009: Vik Muniz. Museum of Modern Art (MAM). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. January 28 – March 22.
  • 2009: Vik. Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP). São Paulo, Brazil. April 25 – July 19.
  • 2009: Vik Muniz. Museu Inimá de Paula. Minas Gerais, Brazil. August 21 – November 2.
  • 2010: Vik Muniz. Museum of the University of Fortaleza/Unifor, Fundação Edson Queiroz, Ceará, Brazil. April 16 – August 8.
  • 2010: Relicário. Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. October 13 – December 5.
  • 2011: Vik Muniz 3D. Espaço Cultural Contemporâneo – ECCO, Brasília, Brazil. June 13 – August 21.
  • 2011: Relicário. Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil. March 1 – April 24.
  • 2011: VIK. Museu Colecção Berardo. Lisbon, Portugal. September 21 – December 31. (traveling exhibition)
  • 2011: Vik Muniz. Le Musé Imaginaire. Collection Lambert en Avignon, Hôtel de Caumont & Église des Célestins, Avignon, France. December 11 – June 15.
  • 2012: VantagePoint X/Vik Muniz. Mint Museum Uptown, Charlotte, North Carolina. August 25 – April 28, 2013.
  • 2012: VIK. Centro de Arte Contemporánea de Málaga, Málaga, Spain, September 7 – December 2. (traveling exhibition)
  • 2013: Vik Muniz: Personal Articles" | Fundación D.O.P. (D.O.P. Foundation), Caracas, Venezuela. June 30 – September 1.
  • 2013: Vik Muniz. Museo Banco de la República. Bogota, Colombia. July 31 – October 28.
  • 2013: Vik Muniz. Clayton Days | Revisited: A Project by Vik Muniz. The Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. July 13 – October 27.
  • 2013: Vik Muniz: Pictures of Car Parts (after Ed Ruscha) Forre Fine Art, Aspen, Colorado. September 15, 2013 – July 15, 2014.
  • 2014: Vik Muniz and Ed Ruscha: Pictures of Car Parts Imago Galleries, Palm Desert, California. January 5, 2014 – April 15, 2015.
  • 2014: Vik Muniz: The Size of the World. Santander Cultura Brasil. May 21 – August 10, 2014
  • 2014: Vik Muniz: Pictures of Anything. Long Museum, Shanghai, China, September 21 – November 1, 2014
  • 2015: "Vik Muniz" – MOMA Equivalents – Fundación D.O.P. (D.O.P. Foundation), Caracas, Venezuela. January 25 – March 22.
  • 2015: Vik Muniz: Poetics of Perceptions. Taubman Museum of Art, VA. June 13 – September 12, 2015.
  • 2015: Vik Muniz: Mas Acá de la Imagen. Museo de La Universidad Tres de Febrero- Buenos Aires, Argentina. May 21, 2015
  • 2016: Vik Muniz. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA. February 28, 2015 – May 29, 2016.
  • 2016: Vik Muniz: Verso. Mauritshuis, the Hague, Netherlands. June 9 – September 4.
  • 2016: Vik Muniz. Eskenzai Museum of Art, Indiana. October 1 – February 5, 2017.
  • 2017: Vik Muniz: Precious Metal: Pictures of Car Parts (after Ed Ruscha) Petersen Museum, Los Angeles December 22, 2016 – April 15, 2017
  • 2017: Vik Muniz Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico. March 10 – June 11, 2017



  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 d La Force, Thessaly (February 2016). "Master of Illusions". Apollo. 183: 46–52.
  5. ^ a b c Magill, Mark (Fall 2000). "Vik Muniz". BOMB (USA): 28–35. JSTOR 40426115.
  6. ^ Ollman, Arthur (2016). Vik Muniz. DelMonico Books-Prestel. ISBN 3791355198.
  7. ^ Schwendener, Martha (June 2002). "Vik Muniz". Artforum (USA). 40: 177–178.
  8. ^ Siegel, Katy (December 1998). "Vik Muniz". Artforum International. 37: 1.
  9. ^ Musiol, Hannah (Summer 2002). "Museums of Human Bodies". College Literature. 40: 156–175.
  10. ^ "Vik Muniz – MoMA". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Vik Muniz – Colección D.O.P." Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Muniz, Vik – The Art Institute of Chicago". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Vik Muniz". 8 June 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Individuals – Vik Muniz – 1999.200 – Work of Art – Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History – The Metropolitan Museum of Art". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  15. ^ "vik muniz Resultados da pesquisa". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
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  17. ^ "Faucet – The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Vik Muniz, 'After Richard Serra, Prop, 1968' 2000". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Action Photo I (After Hans Namuth); Pictures of Chocolate – Muniz, Vik – V&A Search the Collections". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  20. ^ Art, Walker. "Vik Muniz — Collections — Walker Art Center". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  21. ^ "Whitney Museum of American Art: Vik Muniz: Picture of Dust (Tony Smith, Die, 1962, installed at the Whitney Museum in "From the Collection: Photography, Sculpture, and Painting," July 14, 1994 – February 26, 1995)". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  22. ^ "SFMOMA search: vik muniz". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  23. ^ "The Mint Museum – The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (Pictures of Junk)". Retrieved 19 October 2016.

External links[edit]