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Night Sky #2

Soft atmospheric painting of a star-studded night skies.

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  • Soft atmospheric painting of a star-studded night skies.




Vija Celmins
American, born Latvia, 1938

About this artwork

In the mid-1960s Vija Celmins began using photographs from books, magazines, and newspapers that she found in secondhand stores and at yard sales as the point of departure for her paintings. While she produced work in the wake of Pop Art, her interest in the quotidian had nothing to do with issues of commerce or the media but rather with the illusionistic process of image making itself. Since the early 1970s, the artist has created exacting depictions of such expansive subjects as desert floors, ocean waves, the surface of the moon, and star-studded night skies—the latter derived from satellite photographs. To create her smooth, velvety compositions, Celmins often applies multiple layers of pigment to her canvases, sanding each down before she adds the next. Each work is further modulated through the use of a wide range of black, white, and silvery-gray tones. With its jewel-like imagery and suggestion of vastness, Night Sky #2 is at once romantic and unsettling. Lacking the anchor of a horizon, a humanly scaled reference point, or a recognizable landmark, viewers may have difficulty determining their relationship to the image. The enormity of the subject presented on a relatively small scale (the work is less than two feet wide) furthers this sense of disorientation.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Vija Celmins


Night Sky #2


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Alkyd on canvas mounted on aluminum


45.7 × 54.6 cm (18 × 21 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Ada S. Garrett Prize Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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