Famously known for his socially-conscious portraiture, Vik Muniz is a highly revered and multidisciplinary artist working at the intersection of painting, sculpture and photography. He recreates iconic moments of art history and photo-journalistic human stories by collecting and arranging objects laden with symbolism. Using quotidian objects such as children’s toys, rubbish, leaves, chocolate syrup, and other food items, often evoking the true nature of his subjects with their materiality. His early series Sugar Children capture the impression of families working on sugar plantations with sugar sprinkled on paper, and later, as captured in the acclaimed documentary Wasteland, illuminates the unsung heroes of Rio de Janeiro - voluntary recyclable rubbish-pickers - with portraits composed of materials from the dump on which they toil. Muniz’s sensitivity to the little triumphs of humanity and his mastery in conjuring meaning through material and visual association endow his work with an undeniable and universal appeal.
Born in 1961 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Muniz embarked on his artistic career upon arriving in New York in 1983. Prolific and critically acclaimed, he has been featured in over 70 solo exhibitions worldwide, of which his retrospective at MAM Rio de Janeiro achieved top attendance records second only to Picasso. He exhibited at the 24th International Biennale in São Paulo and represented Brazil at the 49th Venice Biennale. Muniz’s work is held in major collections, such as that of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Art Institute of Chicago; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Deutsche Bank, New York; J.P. Morgan Chase, New York Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and National Museum of Art, Osaka.
Muniz has also been awarded honours for his artistic, academic and humanitarian achievements: the Prêmio Cidadão Carioca 2009 by the State of Rio de Janeiro; Medalha da Inconfidência by the State of Minas Gerais; and the pt:Ordem do Ipiranga by the city of São Paulo. The artist lives and works in New York City and Rio de Janeiro.