Vija Celmins

Concentric Bearings A (1984)

About this artwork

Celmins began experimenting with double-image prints following such double-image drawings as 'Untitled (Desert-Galaxy)' (1974). She combined images from photographs she had collected which were particularly significant to her. The 'Concentric Bearings' prints form an important series which were produced with the Gemini G. E. L. print workshop in Los Angeles. The series explores images of 'turning space'. The rotary device shown here is taken from Marcel Duchamp’s 'Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics) 1920'. Duchamp’s machine produced optical illusions by spinning an abstract design. Celmins drew Duchamp’s rotary device from a photograph and then transferred it to the plate using photogravure. It is placed next to Celmins's own image of stars turning in the night sky.

see more information
  • title: Concentric Bearings A
  • accession number: AR00469
  • artist: Vija CelminsAmerican (born 1938)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Etching, Drypoint on paper
  • date created: 1984
  • measurements: left image: 20.80 x 13.80 cm; right image: 24.10 x 17.90 cm (paper 60.80 x 46.80 cm) (framed: 65.00 x 51.50 x 3.90 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
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins

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.