Vik Muniz, ‘The Sower, after Van Gogh’, 2011, ICI: Live Benefit Auction 2017

“A crazed fusion of matter, hand and lens is always at play in Mr. Muniz’s photograph.”
— Roberta Smith, The New York Times

Since the mid-1990s, Vik Muniz has created works based on iconic images inscribed in the history of art, out of everyday materials including chocolate, peanut butter, sugar, and dirt; and in the case of The Sower, after Van Gogh (2011), with dried flower pods, sprigs of lavender, straw. dried seed, and sticks. The image was first arranged on the floor of a cathedral in the South of France by the artist and local high school students and then photographed aerially. Initially taking the form of witty visual statements, Muniz’s work questions the way visual information is constructed, presented and then perceived by viewers.

Muniz's work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio; and the Tate, London, among many others.
—Courtesy of ICI

Image rights: Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Artist's studio

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