After the Bath, After Degas, 2011
41½ x 40 inches
Vik Muniz (b. 1961) is a Brazilian born, New York City based artist well known for his unique multi-media recreations of canonical art historical works. Trained as a sculptor, his elaborate process-based technique involves the repurposing of materials as disparate as diamonds, sugar, string, garbage, new paper clips, chocolate and dust, which he arranges in order to create multi-textured collages that he then photographs. Intricate and tactile, his works are striking because of their stark contradictions. Deceivingly layered and painterly, his photographic surfaces are inevitably flat. The appropriated historical imagery he recreates with quotidian objects, oscillates between high and low culture. With each work Muniz challenges the understanding of traditional image making and perception.
After the Bath, After Degas is part of a series of works that Muniz exhibited in 2011 entitled “Pictures of Magazines 2” in which the artist reproduced paintings by numerous renown historical artists such as Manet, Van Gogh, Courbet and Eakins. Through a constellation of brilliantly colored magazine clippings, Muniz revisits the canonical art historical motif of the nude female bather. Blurring the boundaries between figuration and abstraction, depending on where one stands, the image transforms from a neutrally colored portrait, into a burst of sensory overflow. Upon a closer look, what appear to be painterly strokes are instead a myriad of cut-out pictures of faces, bodies, animals, buildings, fruits and text, which combined transform a simple composition into a spellbinding visual puzzle.