Brazilian American artist Vik Muniz has a knack for finding meaning in discarded odds and ends. Many of his works are composed of unexpected materials—sugar, diamonds, dust, sand—which he carefully arranges before photographing the result. In Khyber Pass, Self-Portrait as an Oriental, After Rembrandt (above), Muniz gathered hundreds of pieces of trash from the largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro to create an enormous sculpture—a portrait—made from soda cans, broken computer monitors and toys, bike parts, even an old cash register. His overhead photograph of the sculpture, part of his Pictures of Junk series, is one of the pieces on display at the upcoming High Museum exhibition dedicated to Muniz’s work (February 28 through August 21). “[Muniz] consistently transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary,” says the High’s photography curator Brett Abbott, “reminding us of the power of art to surprise and delight.”
Artwork credit: Vik Muniz (American, born Brazil, 1961), Khyber Pass, Self-Portrait as an Oriental, after Rembrandt, from Pictures of Junk, 2005. Chromogenic print, 84 x 72 inches. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchased with funds from the H.B. and Doris Massey Charitable Trust, 2005.288. Art © Vik Muniz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
This article originally appeared in our February 2016 issue.