Where can I see it?: Whitney Museum of American Art
Like Gerhard Richter, Vija Celmins developed a deadpan style of Photorealist painting that goes beyond photography and even realism. Her subjects may ostensibly be seascapes, spiderwebs and star-filled skies, but what her work really seems to capture is the act of perception itself, that instant when mind and eye combine to make sense of the world. Heater comes from Celmins’s earliest series of paintings, which featured objects lying around her studio. Its most evident characteristic is the stark contrast between the mesmerizing orange glow of electric coils and the grayish tone of the rest of the painting. It’s almost as if the whole point of the exercise is to note, obviously, that this is what a heater does—it heats.—Howard Halle
Photograph: Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee 95.19 © Vija Celmins, Courtesy of McKee Gallery, N.Y.