Some Vija Celmins Interviews

This LACMA interview with Vija Celmins about her show there of early work is just great. [The show itself is great, too; it was first at the Menil.]

No sooner did I watch it, than Celmins' name came up in the Jasper Johns Gray catalogue. And I decided that what's needed is more Vija Celmins interviews.

And that's when I realized that my expectation that there weren't enough Celmins interviews was based on my reading of her work as so quiet and self-contained. In fact, Celmins herself is quite open, and gives lots of great, thoughtful interviews.

Here's another from 2008, the Carnegie International:

Art21 did one, of course, but this clip's only a minute long.

Simon Grant did a pretty long career-related interview with Celmins for Tate in 2007, which used the Pompidou's drawings retrospective as its hook.

I started going through my photographs and newspaper clippings that I had collected -images of Second World War planes, a nuclear explosion at Bikini Atoll, an airship - and I made drawings of those.
Reading that, and thinking of the Menil/LACMA show, my being reminded of Joy Garnett's paintings doesn't seem that far afield after all.


Phong Bui's 2010 interview is classic Brooklyn Rail: deep and specific on history and the work. Ah, see? Here's the word I was looking for, the one that threw me off of Celmins' interview path:

Rail: Guston also loved Morandi, whom I know you admire, and Morandi's most admired painter was Chardin.

Celmins: I like Chardin, too.

Rail: Especially the late Chardins, depicting the modest interiors, which include kitchen maids in moments of reflection. They were generally painted with muted lighting and therefore created a quiet ambiance, which also is reinforced by the subdued color scheme. The series that made the depiction.

Celmins: You know that muteness exists in Vermeer, Chardin, and Morandi. I don't know who else you would say, in contemporary art. Would you say Ryman? It's hard to say.

Rail: It'd be hard to talk about silence or quietude.

But you know where THE Celmins interview is? In a book. Chuck Close interviewed Celmins, at Bill Bartman's behest, and A.R.T. Press published it in 1992. I think I may even have that somewhere. I certainly thought about buying that etching of Saturn often enough. Gotta track that down.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: April 6, 2011.

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