Vik Muniz b. 1961


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Vik Muniz is a Brazilian photographer known for his use of unconventional materials as diamonds, sugar, thread, string, chocolate syrup and garbage. At the age of 18, Muniz found work with an advertising agency re-designing billboards. In 1983, he was caught in a street brawl and accidently shot in the leg. The shooter kept Muniz quiet about the incident by giving him money, which Muniz used to move to New York City that same year. When he arrived, his friend offered him a studio to work out of. He began his artistic career as a sculptor and was given his first solo exhibition in 1988. He later turned to photography, creating works based on pop culture and recreating famous works from art history.


Muniz never forgot his roots, and in 2010 he created a documentary that shed light on Rio de Janeiro's largest open-air wasteland and the people that worked there. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. As part of the documentary, he created a series of works using garbage, later selling them at auction to show that he could change the worker's lives with the same materials they interact with daily. Muniz stated, "The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it."


Vik Muniz has work featured in the permanent collections of the MoMA in New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, Daros Latin America, Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, The Tate Gallery in London, Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Pãulo, the MCA in Tokyo, the MFA in Boston, Colección D.O.P. and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.


Related Categories: Brazil, Appropriation, Photography, Staged Photography, Use of Common Materials, Mixed-Media, Popular Culture, Art in Art, Sculpture-Based Photography, Drawing.