Explore the Era

Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists.

Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins in her studio in Venice, California, 1966. Photo by Tony Berlant. Art © Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins was born in Latvia in 1938 and emigrated to the U.S. with her parents. They settled in Indiana where she attended the Herron School of Art. She moved to California to attend UCLA and graduated with an MFA in 1965. Her first solo exhibition was held the following year at David Stuart Galleries. Celmins’s early works depict commonplace objects such as lamps and heaters. Like her painting Freeway, some were drawn or painted from photographs, establishing a tension between mechanical reproduction and handmade craft, an aesthetic that would persist throughout her career.

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • Freeway

    Freeway, 1966, Vija Celmins. Oil on canvas. 17 1/2 x 26 3/8 in. Collection of Harold Cook, Ph.D. © Vija Celmins. Image courtesy McKee Gallery, New York

Explore the Archive

  • Video: Vija Celmins

    Video: Vija Celmins speaks about her work, February 2011

  • Video: Riko Mizuno, Vija Celmins, and Ed Moses

    Video: Riko Mizuno, Vija Celmins, and Ed Moses speak about the Mizuno Gallery, 2009–11

  • Poster for Vija Celmins exhibition

    Poster for Vija Celmins exhibition at David Stuart Galleries in Los Angeles, February 28-March 26, 1966. © Vija Celmins. The Getty Research Institute, Gift of Michael Asher, 2009.M.30.13