Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean), 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Alfred M. Esberg; © Vija Celmins; photo: Don Ross

Exhibition

Vija Celmins

To Fix the Image in Memory

December 15, 2018–March 31, 2019

Floor 4

For more than five decades, Vija Celmins has been creating subtle, exquisitely detailed renderings of the physical world — including oceans, desert floors, and night skies. Distilling vast, expansive distances into mesmerizing small-scale artworks, this obsessive “redescribing” is a way to understand human consciousness in relation to lived experience. One of the few women to be recognized as a significant artist in 1960s Los Angeles, Celmins relocated to New York City in 1981, where she continues to live and work. Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory features approximately 140 artworks, including paintings, drawings, and 3-D works. A global debut, this is the first Celmins retrospective in North America in more than twenty-five years.

Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory is co-organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Major support for Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory is provided by the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund. Generous support is provided by Gay-Lynn and Robert Blanding, Janine and J. Tomilson Hill III, Marguerite Steed Hoffmann, Susan and Larry Marx, and Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg.

Research for the exhibition was supported in part by SFMOMA’s Artist Initiative, which is generously funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Header image:

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean), 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Alfred M. Esberg; © Vija Celmins; photo: Don Ross

Exhibition Preview

  • Vija Celmins, Ocean (Untitled), 1977

    Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean), 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Alfred M. Esberg; © Vija Celmins; photo: Don Ross

  • painting of an envelope on a painting, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, Envelope, 1964; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • cardboard and wooden sculpture of a house on fire, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, House #2, 1965; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • Suspended Plan, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, Suspended Plane, 1966; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, by exchange, through the bequest of Elise S. Haas; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • wooden sculpture of a comb, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, Comb, 1969–70; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Council Fund; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • several stones on a flat plane, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, To Fix the Image in Memory I–XI, 1977–82; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Edward R. Broida in honor of David and Renee McKee; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • black and white drawing of a spider web

    Vija Celmins, Web #1, 1998; Tate Modern, London, acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • blurred image of stars in a dark sky, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, Night Sky #16, 2000–2001; gift of Helen and Charles Schwab through The Art Supporting Foundation; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • blue dyed book cover, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, Japanese Book, 2007–8; private collection; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

  • several rectangular wooden objects on a shelf, Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins, Blackboard Tableau #1, 2007–10; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchase, by exchange, through the bequest of Elise S. Haas; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery