Vija Celmins (American, born Latvia, 1938). Untitled (Ocean with Cross #1). 1971.
Graphite on acrylic ground on paper
17 3/4 x 22 3/4"
Ocean begins a week with a focus on drawing. I was struck by this work when I first saw it at a show at MoMA. I've come across Celmins a number of times since and this work in particular again recently. The detail of the drawing is mind-blowing. This reproduction lends itself to the look of a photograph and this is not much different than seeing it at any sort of a distance in person. Once you move very close to the work you see that it is not a photograph (though I still needed a look at the label to confirm it was a drawing). Celmins has also created this image as a woodcut, just as incredible (maybe more so now that I am aware of the intensity it takes to get comfortable with let alone become adept at any kind of detailed woodcut).
Celmins is particularly interested in the artistic process which explains the attention she has paid to building up surfaces and tackling labor intensive printing processes such as mezzotint and woodcut. Celmin focuses on grand surface landscapes such as the ocean, desert and the surface of the moon. Her drawings and prints are soothing and beautiful.