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August 23, 2022

Acquisition: Vik Muniz Photographs Given by Tony Podesta

Vik Muniz, "Memory Rendering of John Lennon"

Vik Muniz
Memory Rendering of John Lennon, 1989, printed 1995
gelatin silver print
image: 17.2 x 13 cm (6 3/4 x 5 1/8 in.)
sheet: 35.5 x 27.7 cm (14 x 10 7/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of Tony Podesta Collection

Over the past two decades, gifts from the collection of Tony Podesta have contributed significantly to the contemporary holdings of the National Gallery of Art. Podesta has recently donated The Best of LIFE (1989, printed 1995) by Vik Muniz (b. 1961), a portfolio of ten gelatin silver prints. These will join six later photographs by Muniz made between 1998 and 2011, also in the collection.

In 1983 when Muniz arrived in the United States from Brazil, he purchased a book titled The Best of LIFE, which included reproductions of iconic photographs by Margaret Bourke-White (1904–1971), Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898–1995), and others. Inspired by the idea that strangers shared a common visual memory, he drew great comfort from the book and saw it as a way of connecting with people in his adopted home. After he lost the book, he made drawings of several of the pictures, investigating, as he said, "the image within"—how we remember images. Next, he photographed the drawings, and to further approximate how he had first seen them in reproduction, he printed them through a halftone screen. He published these "memory renderings" in a portfolio in 1995.

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