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Vija Celmins



about this work

For more than forty years, Vija Celmins’s art has been concerned with a meticulous representation of objects and the natural world, devoid of human presence. This early painting, Heater, was made when Celmins was a graduate student at UCLA and engaged in a methodical depiction of the contents of her studio, recording the physical condition of the objects and the space around them with precise attention to detail. Painted in a highly realistic fashion, the heater appears to radiate warmth from its glowing coils. Isolated against a field of grey, the heater is separated from its physical context, rendering it neutral and almost abstract.

Vija Celmins, Heater, 1964  95.19
Vija Celmins, Heater, 1964. Oil on canvas, 47 7/16 × 48 in. (120.5 × 121.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee  95.19 For Teachers