Primarily a painter of still-life and landscape, Vija Celmins (b. 1938, Latvia; moved to the US in 1949) is a major international figure associated with 1960s Pop art. Her unique, technically impeccable paintings and drawings choose as their subject matter 'impossible imagery': from exploding planes and burning house from her childhood memories in wartorn Latvia; to vast natural landscapes such as open seas, deserts and night skies; to undefinable spaces like the LA freeway; and natural objects, including desert rocks and spider webs. A highly respected figure in contemporary art, Celmins was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award (in Art) in 1996 and in 2004 is minated for the Smithsonian's highly prestigious Lucelia Award. Vija Celmins' magnificent artworks all testify to her undying fascination with the world around her - whether the commonplace objects in her studio; the natural landscapes of her adopted California; or the pebbles beneath her feet. Primarily a painter of still-life and landscape, Celmins is associated with 1960s Pop art, and often uses photographs to create her signature 'impossible images', such as just-fired revolvers or exploding airplanes. Temporarily abandoning painting in the 1970s, Celmins turned her attention to drawing exquisite graphite seascapes and other vast natural landscapes. Like the night skies she began in the 1980s, hers are 'unbound spaces...wrestled' into two-dimensions, the artist has said. As with her later spider webs, Celmins often blurs the boundaries of photography, painting, printmaking and drawing. Now based in New York, Celmins has exhibited widely since the 1960s. Her American retrospective travelled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; MoCA Los Angeles; the ICA, Philadelphia; Henry Art gallery, University of Washington, Seattle; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 1992-94. 'Vija Celmins Works 1964-1996' travelled to the ICA, London; Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Kunstmuseum Winterthur (Switzerland); and the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, in 1997.
Lane Relyea (Survey) is Assistant Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University, Chicago. His essays and reviews have appeared in Artforum, Parkett and frieze; major contributions to exhibition catalogues include Helter Skelter (1992) and Public Offerings (2001) both at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Robert Gober (Interview) is among the most important American artists to have emerged in the 1980s. Primarily a sculptor and installation artist, Gober's handcrafted works, often based on familiar, domestic objects, have been the object of major exhibitions, among them the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1997); the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, and the Reina Sofia, Madrid (both 1991); and the Art Institute of Chicago (1988). In 2001 Gober represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Briony Fer (Focus) is Reader in History of Art at University College London; her books include On Abstract Art (1997) and The Infinite Line (2004). Fer has written on a wide range of artists including Hanne Darboven, Rachel Whiteread and Eva Hesse for Hesse's recent retrospective (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum Wiesbaden, and tour, 2002). For her Artist's Choice Barth has selected an extract from 'Funes the Memorious', a short story from the collection Ficciones (Fictions, 1944) by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) the acclaimed Argetinian poet, essayist and novelist. Borges' fantastical, dream-like fables are classics of 20th century literature. Vija Celmins' Artist's Writing is an extract from her important, book-length interview with the noted American Pop portraitist, Chuck Close, revealing the two artists' uneasy relationship to painting and its history.