Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz /   Vicente José de Oliveira Muniz

Brazil 1961

Photography, Prints, Drawing

Vik Muniz
Vicente José de Oliveira Muniz
May 20, 2016
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Vik Muniz is a Brazilian visual artist who uses unexpected materials and everyday objects such as sugar, dust, chocolate or garbage in his procedures of creating bold, ironic and often deceiving imagery, inspired by the pop culture and history.  Muniz started to discover art in the books he borrowed from his high school library and he began his career as a sculptor in the late 1980s. However, he gradually became more interested in drawing and photography and he built his own, uniquely experimental artistic processes.

2015 Vik Muniz paulo new york museum contact
Vik Muniz – Postcard from Nowhere, 2015

Painting Related to Chocolate and Diamonds

Already as a teenager, Muniz was working in the realm of visual arts. He was redesigning billboards for higher readability in his native Brazil, but after he arrived in New York City in 1983, his friend lent him a studio and he started his career as a sculptor. In addition to sculpting, Muniz began experimenting with drawing and photography and he decided to combine both approaches in his series Sugar Children, which was exhibited in MOMA in 1997. Muniz is best known for recreating famous scenes from art history and pop culture with unexpected, often edible objects. He also explored the human memory and perception through the images represented in arts and communication. For example, The Best of Life  series of drawings in the reproduction of the famous photographs Muniz have seen and remembered from the magazine Life. In the mid-1990s, in order to create witty, bold, and often deceiving images based on photojournalism and history, Muniz began to incorporate diamonds, sugar, dry pigment, caviar and wire into his photographic processes. In 1997, Muniz became well-known for his Pictures of Chocolate series, in which he used chocolate syrup to create his works. The artist borrowed imagery from popular culture and old masters of painting to make his works more familiar. He playfully calls this approach the worst possible illusion.

Muniz is best known for recreating famous scenes from art history and pop culture with edible objects

1997 Vik paulo museum contact
Vik Muniz – The Last Supper (from Pictures of Chocolate), 1997

Waste Land Documentary

Waste Land is documentary from 2010, directed by Lucy Walker and it follows Vik Muniz as he travels from his home in Brooklyn to his native Brazil to see the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Waste Land project was being filmed for almost three years and during this time, Muniz was creating artworks from the recyclables found at Jardim Gramacho landfill. Muniz collaborated with catadores, the people employed to pick out recyclable material from garbage and he created his famous large-scale mosaic portraits. These pieces were sold at auctions in London and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Sao Paulo. The project was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Academy Awards.

Waste Land was being filmed for almost three years and during this time, Muniz was creating artworks from the recyclables found at Jardim Gramacho landfill

2016 new project
Vik Muniz – Marat (Left) / Mother and Children (Right)

Vik Muniz at FofoFest 2016 Biennial

Vik Muniz is a very active artist who continuously participates in various international shows. In 2016, he joined FotoFest Biennial in Houston TX, which main topic is the preservation of natural world and the humanity’s place in such world. Featured projects in the show address the issues of climate change, industrialization, urbanization, biodiversity, energy production and handling of waste. The money Muniz has earned at FotoFest by selling his artworks from the Pictures of Garbage series was given to the garbage collectors in Brazil, so they can improve life in their communities. In additio to his carreer in visual arts, Muniz is also a great lecturer who loves to talk about the social consciousness his work is infused with. He held a famous TED talk in 2007 and was nominated as a Goodwill Ambassador by UNESCO.

In 2016, Muniz joined FotoFest Biennial in Houston TX, which main topic is the preservation of natural world

Vik Muniz - Traces, 2016
Vik Muniz – Traces, 2016

Master Illusionist

Vik Muniz is an artist who finds a special delight in subverting and exceding his viewers’ expectations. Because of his use of unexpected and even bizarre materials to create portraits, landscapes and still lifes, Muniz is often considered as a master illusionist. Yet, he claims that he’s not interested in fooling people – he just wants to show them the power of his unique approach which is beyond the traditional artistic styles.  Muniz’s work has won a lot of commercial success and great critical acclaim and has been exhibited worldwide. What’s even more striking is the fact that one of his his solo shows at MAM in Rio de Janeiro was second only to Picasso in attendee numbers.

The artist is represented by Pace Gallery in Beijing, Pace Gallery in HK, Pace Gallery in London, and Pace Gallery in Menlo Park.

Vik Muniz lives and works between New York City and Rio de Janeiro.

Featured image: The artist’s portrait – image via
All other images © the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Vik Muniz: Mauritshuisthe Hague, NetherlandsSolo
2016Vik MunizHigh Museum of Art, Atlanta, GASolo
2016FotoFest 2016 Biennial: Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the PlanetFotoFest International, Houston TexasGroup
2015Vik Muniz: AlbumBen Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong, ChinaSolo
2015Vik Muniz: AlbumXippas Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2015Vik Muniz: Poetics of PerceptionsLowe Art Museum, MiamiSolo
2015Vik Muniz: Poetics of PerceptionsTaubman Museum of ArtSolo
2015Vik Muniz: Mas Aca de la ImagenMuseo de La Universidad Tres de Febrero - Buenos Aires, ArgentinaSolo
2015Vik Muniz: Pictures of AnythingMusee d’Art Moderne de Saint Etienne MetropoleSolo
2015Visual Deception II Into the FutureNagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, JapanGroup
2015White MOCA Jacksonville Jacksonville, FloridaGroup
2015Vik MunizBlueprint Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York City, New YorkGroup
2015Alimentario Art and Construction of the Brazilian Food HeritageModern Art Museum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Group
2015A Walk around the Contemporary Art Museum of Fine Arts, GifuGroup
2014Vik Muniz - AlbumSikkema Jenkins & Co., New York City, NYSolo
2014Vik Muniz: Pictures of AnythingTel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel AvivSolo
2014Art for change sculptureVirginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Virginia Beach, VASolo
2014Vik Muniz: poetics of perceptionVirginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Virginia Beach, VASolo
2014Today’s SpecialsPace London, LondonGroup
2014The Thing ItselfYancey Richardson Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2014Mind the MapGalleri F15, MossGroup
2014The Disappearance of the firefliesCollection Lambert, AvignonGroup
2014Post-Picasso: Contemporary ReactionsMuseo Picasso, BarcelonaGroup
2014LatinaGalerie Xippas Switzerland, GenevaGroup
2013Vik MunizFrick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburg, PASolo
2013Vik Muniz: Garbage MattersFrist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TNSolo
2013Freedom Not Genius - Works From Damien Hirst's CollectionMultimedia Art Museum - Moscow House of Photography, MoscowGroup
2013Para-Real601Artspace, New York City, NYGroup
2013According To PlanBarbara Mathes Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013The Ghost of Architecture: Recent and Promised GiftsHenry Art Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
2013DiacussionEnvoy enterprises, New York City, NYGroup
2013More Real? Art in the Age of TruthinessThe Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2013Theatrical GesturesHerzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, HerzliyaGroup
2013VertigoGalerie Xippas Switzerland, GenevaGroup
2012Vik Muniz - Pictures of Magazine 2Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2012Pictures of Magazine 2Galerie Xippas France, ParisSolo
2012Vik Muniz: poetics of perceptionGalerie Xippas Switzerland, GenevaSolo
2012Under WaterSonoma University Art Gallery, Rohnert Park, CAGroup
2012Affinity AtlasRuth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, NYGroup
2011Vik Muniz - Pictures of ColorEdward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York City, NYSolo
2011Vik Muniz3D - ECCO - Espaco Cultural Contemporaneo, BrasiliaSolo
2010Vik Muniz: Pictures of PaperNCA / Nichido Contemporary Art, TokyoSolo
2010Vik Muniz: Pictures of cars, magazines, ink, soil, coffee beans and junkIKON Ltd, Santa Monica, CASolo
2010Vik Muniz - VersoGaleria Fortes Vilaça, São PauloSolo
2009Vik Muniz - Arndt & PartnerBerlin + Zurich, ZurichSolo
2009Labeltalk 2009: Vik MunizWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MASolo
2008Vik Muniz - Paper TrailsRena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2008Vik Muniz - VersoSikkema Jenkins & Co., New York City, NYSolo
2008Vik Muniz - PicturesArtcore Gallery, Toronto, ONSolo
2008Vik Muniz - ReflexAntiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico CitySolo
2007Russian ProjektGary Tatintsian Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2007Vik Muniz - The Beautiful EarthGaleria Fortes Vilaça, São PauloSolo
2007Vik Muniz: A SurveyPinchukArtCentre, KievSolo
2005Vik Muniz in the Italian CollectionsTurin, ItalySolo
2005Vik MunizKoyanagi Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2004SurpriseCardi Gallery, MilanGroup
2004Photography and SculptureMAM-Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2003Supernova: Art of the 1990s San Francisco, SFMoMAGroup
2003Panorama de Arte BrasileiraMuseum of Modern Art – MAM, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2000Counter-Monuments and MemoryMuseum of Modern Art, New York, NYGroup
2000Landscape-PortraitMichael Hue-Williams Fine Art, London, UKGroup
2000Double Vision: Photographs from the Strauss CollectionUniversity Art Museum-CSU. Long Beach, CaliforniaSolo
2000Clayton DaysThe Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaSolo
1995The Wire PicturesGaleria Camargo Vilaca, Sao Paulo, Brazil.Solo
1994RepresentationsWooster Gardens, New York, NYSolo
1990Vik MunizMeyers/Bloom Gallery, Santa Monica, CaliforniaSolo
1990Vik MunizStephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CaliforniaSolo