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Vija Celmins

Night Sky #4

1992

Night Sky #4 features a subject Vija Celmins has revisited consistently over the last four decades of her career, as it has served as a vehicle to explore her main concern: the irrefutable flatness of the picture plane and the built-up materials and marks on its surface. Ultimately boundless, but confined to the modestly scaled canvas, her starry skies are all-over fields in which illusion grapples with abstraction, depth of image resists the density of paint, and innumerable painstakingly laid strokes somehow muster to become a unified image. She has described her process as “a rigorous building, and letting the material be the material. Letting the image be more and more like an armature.”

Vija Celmins (b. 1938, Riga, Latvia; lives and works in New York)
Night Sky #4, 1992
Oil on canvas mounted on panel
30 3/4 x 37 3/4 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of Lannan Foundation

Even though you may think they came from lying under the stars, for me, they came out of loving the blackness of the pencil. —Vija Celmins

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