Galeria Fortes Vilaça is pleased to present Verso by Vik Muniz. The exhibition features seven tri-dimensional objects of various sizes made of wood and various media, which faithfully reproduce the reverse of celebrated artworks such as Les Mademoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso and La Grande Jatte by Seurat, which the artist photographed and studied for a period of six years in partnership with the curatorial and conservation team of institutions such as MoMA, Guggenheim Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, together with a team of artisans, artists, counterfeiters and technicians.
Whenever an expert wants to certify the authenticity of an artwork, his/her first gesture is to turn the canvas around to analyze its back. While the painted side remains untouchable through the years, its reverse undergoes constant modification, telling its story, displaying its scars. However, the average visitor to a museum or gallery does not get the chance to observe the labels on the back of an artwork and to imagine the places and situations through which the piece has traveled.
Upon entering the present exhibition, the impression is that we are entering an art show that is still being set up, with canvases on the floor and leaning against the wall. A closer look reveals the artworks’ titles and authors, and we become aware that these works cannot actually be there since they belong to important museums in Brazil and worldwide. Knowing what the artwork represents on its other face becomes only a supposition, and not a necessity. The Verso series makes the spectator imagine each artwork while reading only the labels on its back. The careful detailing of these artworks, which fools the spectator’s eyes with a trompe l’oeil, is the result of a painstaking effort by a vast team of professionals directed by the artist. After photographing the artworks in their respective museums, each specialist was responsible for the execution of a specific detail: frames, scratches, stains, labels, etc., all reproduced to perfection.
Over the last 20 years Vik has re-created iconic images through the use of techniques that relate the process of creation with the work of art. By observing the history of some of these images and revealing their unknown side, the Verso series brings the artist back to the creation of objects, a technique for which he became known back in the 1980s.
For the exhibition in São Paulo, Vik Muniz worked together with the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) of Rio de Janeiro, and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) to reproduce the reverse side of the paintings A Estudiante, by Anita Malfatti; O Abaporu, by Tarsila do Amaral; São Paulo, 1924, by Tarsila do Amaral; and Samba, by Di Cavalcanti.
Along with Verso, Muniz will be exhibiting equally confounding recreations of the backs of famous photographs from the New York Times archive at MOMA. The backs are full of cancelled dates, yellowed newspaper captions and rubber cement stains offering a glimpse of the life of these images in the newsroom and beyond.
Vik Muniz’s work figures in collections around the world, including that of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Daros Foundation, Zurich; and Tate, London.
The catalog for Verso, with texts by Vik Muniz, Luc Sante and Eva Respini, and detailed descriptions of the making of each artwork, will be available for consultation and purchase at the gallery.