Ocean Surface Wood Engraving 2000

Vija Celmins (American, born Riga, Latvia, 1938)
Leslie Miller (American, born New York, 1957)
Grenfell Press (New York, NY)
Wood engraving
sheet: 20-3/4 x 17-1/4 inches (52.7 x 43.8 cm)
plate: 8-1/4 x 10-1/4 inches (21 x 26 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Catherine Woodard and Nelson Blitz Jr. Gift, in honor of their daughters, Perri and Allison Blitz, 2002
Accession Number:
Not on view
Since 1968, Celmins has depicted the ocean surface in a variety of media. Within the realm of prints alone, she has made lithographs, drypoints, woodcuts, and this wood engraving of the motif. These works all derive from photographs of the Pacific that Celmins took while living in California. Here, she crops the image so that gentle waves fill the entire picture plane and eliminates indications of the shore, sky, and other boundaries. The artist has described it as a space where "stillness and movement, flatness and depth, are held together in a delicate balance." Celmins used an engraving tool to carve the woodblock shown here, a process that took several years and enabled her to render the image with great detail using tiny dashes and marks and also to highlight visual contrasts between the tones of the black ink and flashes of ivory paper.
Inscription: Signed and dated in graphite at lower right: "V. Celmins 2000"
Numbered in graphite at lower left: "60/75"
Vendor: Grenfell Press (American)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," September 19, 2011–January 8, 2012.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paper Chase: Two Decades of Collecting Drawings and Prints," December 9, 2014–March 16, 2015.