Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966

Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966

Franklin Sirmans and Michelle White
6 1/4 × 9 inches
64 pages

Published 2010


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This small, intimately scaled book is the first to concentrate on the compelling early work of Vija Celmins (b. 1938). The artist is best known for her intricate representations of ocean waves, night skies, desert floors, and spider webs. Some of her first subjects, however, were warplanes, smoking guns, and other dangers inspired by images from library books, magazines, and television. In the mid 1960s, Pop Art was making its debut on the West Coast, artists in Los Angeles were developing an entirely new “cool school” language, modern abstract painting had lost its dominance, and the United States was fighting an often-televised war in Vietnam. Produced in a fertile intellectual and political period in California, Celmins’s paintings are a reflection of her environment and personal history.

About the Authors
Franklin Sirmans is curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He formerly served as curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection, where he curated Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life Before Death? (2010) and authored the accompanying publication.

Michelle White is curator at the Menil Collection. She recently co-curated Barnett Newman: The Late Work (2015) and curated Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds (2014) and was a principal contributor to both catalogues.