Vija Celmins (1938-)
Oil on canvas
Overall: 47 9/16 × 48 in. (120.8 × 121.9 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
From the beginning of her artistic career, Vija Celmins's art has been concerned with a meticulous representation of objects and the natural world, devoid of human presence. This early painting, Heater, was made when Celmins was a graduate student at UCLA and engaged in a methodical depiction of the contents of her studio, recording the physical condition of the objects and the space around them with precise attention to detail. Painted in a highly realistic fashion, the heater appears to radiate warmth from its glowing coils. Isolated against a field of grey, the heater is separated from its physical context, rendering it neutral and almost abstract.