Vija Celmins is an American artist. She immigrated to the United States with her family from Latvia when she was ten years old.
Celmins work includes oil painting, charcoal and pencil drawing, printmaking and sculpture. Her early work bears interesting relationships with that of her contemporary, Gerhard Richter, the German painter. The early paintings share Richter's slightly blurred photo-realist style, and some were executed with no colour, just using black and white and greys made from mixing black and white paint.
Celmins is now internationally known for her later works which are often intensely realistic paintings and drawings. Celmins has also worked with print media since the early 1960s, again meticulously rendering details of the natural environment. Celmins's work demonstrates a remarkably close engagement with the natural world mediated by photography. Celmins has said her images dispel romantic notions of the sublime in nature.
In the late 1960s, Celmins started drawing more, mainly working with graphite pencil. Her subjects became increasingly selective until her work became almost entirely images of the surface of the ocean, night skies (with stars), and the surface of the desert, with small stones and pebbles rendered in great detail.