Night Sky # 19 (1998)
About this artwork
Celmins's intense monochromatic images of the night sky, based on photographs, focus on small and individual marks in the context of vastness. The images seem fragile because they record a specific human glimpse through a telescope or camera which is ephemeral and frozen in time. Celmins's serial exploration of her subjects, including the night sky, allows the artist to exploit the distinct characteristics of the variety of media she uses. Celmins has explained that her galaxy drawings stem from a love of exploring "the blackness of the pencil". The charcoal ground has a dark opacity but contains endless variations. Celmins uses an eraser to bring out the stars in the night sky.
- title: Night Sky # 19
- accession number: AR00163
- artist: Vija CelminsAmerican (born 1938)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Work on paper
- medium: Charcoal on paper
- date created: 1998
- measurements: 45.90 x 56.50 cm (paper 57.00 x 67.30 cm) (framed: 61.80 x 71.80 x 3.80 cm)
- credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
- copyright: © Vija Celmins.
- photographer: Antonia Reeve
Born in Latvia in 1938, Cemins and her family emigrated to the United States in 1948. Although beginning her career as an Abstract Expressionist painter, she is now best known for her intricate, monochromatic drawings of a select range of subjects. In 1966 she began to use photographs as the subject for her works, creating what she described as “impossible images” which remind us of the complexity of the simplest things. These meticulous renderings of the surface of the ocean, expanses of desert, the night sky, or a spider’s web, demonstrate her fascination with the surrounding world. With a slow, painstaking approach, some of these works take up to a year to complete.