Vik Muniz is a Contemporary visual artist who was born Vicente Jose de Oliveira Muniz (Brazilian, b.1961) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Muniz began to discover art in the books he borrowed from his high school library. After studying advertising at the Fundacao Armando Alvares Penteado de Sao Paulo, he moved to Brooklyn, NY, with his family in 1983. The artist began his career as a sculptor in the late 1980s, but he gradually became more interested in drawing and photography.
In 1988, Muniz explored the memory, perception, and images represented in arts and communication. He created The Best of Life, the series of drawings in which he reproduced from his memory some of the famous photographs he saw in the magazine Life. He then photographed his drawings to give more reality to his memories. In the mid-1990s, in order to create witty, bold, and often deceiving images based on photojournalism and art history, Muniz began to incorporate unusual and everyday materials into his photographic process. These materials included dust, diamonds, sugar, dry pigment, ketchup, caviar, and wire. 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 from popular culture and Old Masters artists such as Georges Seurat and Vincent Van Gogh to make his works more familiar. He called this approach the “worst possible illusion.”
In 1998, he participated in the 24th International Biennale in Sao Paulo, and in 2001, he represented Brazil at the 49th Biennale in Venice, Italy. In 2006, Muniz created the series Pictures of Junk. In 2010, the documentary Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, followed Muniz for three years. During this time, the artist created art with recyclables at Jardim Gramacho, a landfill which serves the metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz collaborated with the people employed to pick out recyclable material from garbage and created large-scale mosaic portraits; these works were sold at art auctions in London and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Sao Paulo. The artist has had his work exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the KAsama Nichido Museum of Art in Japan, among many other prestigious institutions. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn.