Vik Muniz is a Brazilian contemporary visual artist and photographer, best known for recreating famous imagery from art history and pop culture with everyday objects then photographing them. Born Vicente Jose de Oliveira Muniz in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1961, Muniz developed an interest an art from books in his high school library. He received a scholarship to art school and studied advertising at the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado de São Paulo. At age 18, Muniz worked in advertising redesigning billboard ads. In 1983, Muniz and his family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he began his sculpting career. After seeing the works of Postmodernist artists, such as Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman, Muniz was inspired to create visual art that would rework popular imagery and old themes in a signature style.
In 1988, Muniz created The Best of Life series, which explored memory and perception by creating drawings of famous photographs from memory, then photographing them. In the mid-1990s, Muniz incorporated unusual materials into the drawing process. He produced recognizable imagery from Pop Culture and Art History by arranging materials, such as diamonds, garbage, sugar and chocolate, then photographing the intricate and bold arrangements. His images range from Old Masters like Georges Seurat and Van Gogh, to contemporary icons like Bridgette Bardot. After photographing the arrangements, Muniz destroys them, reflecting his fascination with ephemerality, photographic representation and iconic denotation.
In 2006, Muniz created the notable project series Pictures of Junk. In 2010, Muniz was in Waste Land, a documentary directed by Lucy Walker. The film followed Muniz for three years as he created art with recyclable materials from Jarim Gramacho, the landfill metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. The recyclable materials picked from this trash were used for Muniz’s large-scale mosaic portraits.
Vik Muniz participated in the 24th Venice Biennale in Sao Paula in 1998, and represented Brazil at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. He has exhibited at international museums, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, and the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris, among other prestigious institutions. Muniz currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.