Exhibitions/ Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory

Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory

September 24, 2019–January 12, 2020

Exhibition Overview

This retrospective will provide a comprehensive view of Vija Celmins's career through a selection of approximately 120 works—from her earliest paintings made in Los Angeles in the 1960s to objects completed in New York in the last five years.

Throughout an accomplished career that spans more than fifty years, Celmins has sustained a practice of deep focus and extraordinary skill in a wide range of media. Celmins bases her exquisitely wrought paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints on the world around us—sometimes through direct observation, but more often mediated by photography. Whether her sources are quotidian objects from her first studio in Venice, California, photographs of the Pacific Ocean taken at the local pier, or reproductions from newspapers, magazines, scientific exploration and inquiry, the resulting work possesses a magical verisimilitude.

Featured Media


"Quietly ravishing, brilliantly installed. . . . Let the magic begin." —The New York Times

"Celmins' . . . ocean waves, starry nights, and utterly quotidian objects beg to be examined up close . . . she makes painstaking reproduction feel sexy." —Observer

The exhibition is made possible by the Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation, the Aaron I. Fleischman and Lin Lougheed Fund, and The Daniel and Estrellita Brodsky Foundation.

It is co-organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Vija Celmins. Untitled (Big Sea #1) (detail), 1969. Graphite on acrylic ground on paper. Private collection. © Vija Celmins, courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo © McKee Gallery, New York