Julia Friedrich, with contributions from Kasper König, Poul Erik Tøjner, and Hubertus Butin, Cologne, 2011.
Hardcover, cloth-bound, 151 pp., b/w illustrations, 9.75 x 8.75 x 0.75 inches.
The many admirers and devotees of Vija Celmins (born 1938) at last possess a serious overview of the Latvian-born, New York-based artist's work in this volume. For more than a half-century, Celmins has quietly mined a narrow but infinitely rich range of theme and palette, extrapolating whole worlds of photorealist detail from four seemingly simple motifs: the surface of the sea, the night sky, the desert and the spider web. In oil paintings, prints and charcoal or graphite pencil drawings that revisit these motifs over and over, as if researching them to comprehend their infinities of detail, Celmins confines herself to the colors black, white and gray, preserving a spacious sobriety and calm exactitude for her potentially romantic subjects. This essential volume reproduces more than 60 variations of Celmins' precisely depicted seas, skies, deserts and webs, which in the artist's seemingly dispassionate renderings restore vastness and wonder to our sense of the cosmos.