Born in 1961, Vik Muniz is a contemporary visual artist who was initially a sculptor but became fascinated with taking pictures. At first, he photographed his work and eventually he completely put his concentration on to photography. Initially, he worked in series by incorporating mundane objects like sugar, chocolate syrup, garbage, diamonds, dust, caviar, ketchup, threads and etc to create audacious, sardonic and illusory imagery, gleaned from art history and popular culture, which he captured on a camera. His work has been critically acclaimed and exhibited worldwide.
When he was 18, Muniz worked in Brazil, for an advertising company, redesigning an outdoor medium – billboards. He then collected money and left in 1983 for New York. In 1988, his first solo exhibition as a sculptor was held. In addition, he experimented with photography and drawing and incorporated both in a single series titled Sugar Children. The series was displayed in the New Photography 13 show at the Museum of Modern Art, next to the works of An-My Le, Kunié Sugiura and Rineke Dijkstra, in 1997. For this work, Muniz took images of families working in St. Kitts on the Caribbean Island on sugar plantations. He created the images of children from these families with black pepper and sugar.
Vik Muniz is famous for reviving renowned imagery in a unique way. He recreated photos of Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth in a Cibachrome print. In 1997, Muniz became known for his series, Pictures of Chocolate. He created his work using chocolate syrup. He gained influence from not only pop culture but from the masters of history in art, like Vincent Van Gogh and Georges Seurat.
Muniz’s work developed while industrial design switched its focus to molecular structure than form. His work reflected maturity when information was pulverized into an arithmetical organization. Muniz’s work invents a meta-language derived from pictures and he is obsessed with producing images that expose their core and progression.
In 1988, Muniz investigated terms like perception and memory. The Best of Life was a series of drawings by him in which he reproduced some famed photos he remembered from Life magazine. Once done, in order to record his work, he photographed it.
In 1998, in São Paulo, Muniz took part in the 24th International Biennale and three years later he represented Brazil in Italy at the 49th Biennale, Venice. In 2006, he created Pictures of Junk, another series.
His work collections are available at Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Mint Museum in North Carolina and many others.
Vik Muniz received awards for his extraordinary work as well, such as in the category of Magazine Cover Design, he was given the News Design Annual Creative Competition Award of Excellence (2007), National Artist Award by the Ayuntamiento de Madrid in Spain (2005), he got second place in the Best Photography Exhibition by The International Center of Photography (1998) and a few other retrospectives between 2008 and 2010.
With the advancement of technology and the introduction of digital imaging, it was assumed that photography had murdered painting but it is the other way round, photography in fact gave freedom to the world of art. It opened an array of possibilities for artists. They can use photography to enhance their work, use it as a helpful tool to make artwork or use it to record their work.