Vik Muniz, ‘The Best of LIFE—Portfolio’, 1995, Phillips

Property from a Private Collection, Miami

New York: Wooster Gardens

Varying dimensions from 6 3/4 x 5 in. (17.1 x 12.7 cm) to 7 x 10 1/4 in. (17.8 x 26 cm) or the reverse

From the Catalogue:
Titles include: Memory Rendering of 3-D Screening, 1989; Memory Rendering of John Lennon in Manhattan, 1989; Memory Rendering of Kiss at Times Square, 1989; Memory Rendering of John John, 1989; Memory Rendering of Tranbang Child, 1989; Memory Rendering of Flag Raising at Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 1989; Memory Rendering of Saigon Execution of a Viet Cong Suspect, 1989; Memory Rendering of Kent State Shooting, 1989; Memory Rendering of Man On The Moon, 1989; Memory Rendering of Man Stopping Tank In Beijing, 1989

“What I did with The Best of LIFE series was to make these very subjective, transparent images more objective and opaque by adding more interpretive layers.”

The series The Best of LIFE from 1989, was made towards the beginning of Muniz’s career, and embraced his fascination with the concept of the “image within”—the image that people hold in their memories—which he has continued to explore throughout his career. This formative series for the artist perfectly embodies his desires to not only explore his own fascination with visual memory, but to connect to all who experience images in mass culture.

Muniz, purchased the book The Best of LIFE at a garage sale in Chicago not long after he first moved to the United States. It became a source of comfort in his new surroundings. According to the artist, “The Best of LIFE was the only ‘family’ reference I had at the time. I learned to love those images. The Margaret Bourke-Whites, the Alfred Eisenstaedts - the feeling of sharing a picture, the sensations that two or more people know the same thing, live the same moment.” The concept that other people, even strangers, could all connect to the familiarity of these ‘known’ images was not only a comfort, but increasingly intriguing to Muniz.

After losing the beloved book, Muniz began to try and recall the images from his memory, drawing his recollections of them. He never referenced the original images and he was able to explore the concept of the “image within,” finding that everyone remembered these iconic images differently, even if by only minute differences. After working on the drawings for two years, he photographed the drawings and then gently manipulated the photos by softening their appearance. To further synthesize the series, he printed the photographs with a halftone screen that many publications use in printing. By bringing his memories of the images back to their original state—photographs printed in halftone—viewers are able to recognize the images while also simultaneously knowing they are more ‘pictures of thought’ than the actual photos themselves, bringing into question the veracity of our own memories of the images and events.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Each signed, titled, dated and numbered 1/10 in pencil in the margin. Signed, dated and numbered 1/10 in ink on the list of images. Introductory essay by the artist and colophon. Accompanied by a black clamshell portfolio case with white title.

Capivara, Vik Muniz: Obra Completa 1987-2009, pp. 113, 115-121
Capivara, Everything So Far, Vik Muniz: Catalogue Raisonné, 1987-2015 (Volume 1), pp. 35, 159-166
Elkins, Vik Muniz, Incomplete Works, pp. 91-99

Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

About Vik Muniz

Photographer and mixed-media artist Vik Muniz is best known for repurposing everyday materials for intricate and heavily layered recreations of canonical artworks. Muniz works in a range of media, from trash to peanut butter and jelly, the latter used to recreate Andy Warhol’s famous Double Mona Lisa (1963) that was in turn an appropriation of Da Vinci’s original. Layered appropriation is a consistent theme in Muniz’s work: in 2008, he undertook a large-scale project in Brazil, photographing trash-pickers as figures from emblematic paintings, such as Jacques-Louis David’s Neoclassical Death of Marat, and then recreating the photographs in large-scale arrangements of trash. The project was documented in the 2010 film Waste Land in an attempt to raise awareness for urban poverty. Muniz explained the work as a “step away from the realm of fine art,” wanting instead to “change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day.”

Brazilian, b. 1961, São Paulo, Brazil, based in New York & Rio de Janeiro