Death of ChattertonArtist(s)Vik MunizArtist NationalityAmerican (North American)Object Creation Date2000Medium & Supportdye destruction print on paperDimensions
51 1/2 in x 67 9/16 in x 2 in (130.81 cm x 171.61 cm x 5.08 cm);51 1/2 in x 67 9/16 in x 2 in (130.81 cm x 171.61 cm x 5.08 cm)Credit LineMuseum purchase made possible by the W. Hawkins Ferry FundLabel copy
March 28, 2009
A copy of a copy is always an original thing.
Muniz is known for using unconventional materials—dust, soil, thread, sugar, and, in this case, chocolate syrup—to recreate famous images from the history of art, which he then preserves in photographic form. He calls the resulting works—drawings translated into photographs that recall paintings—“photographic delusions.” These visual tricks invite the viewer to resolve them into their component layers and simultaneously challenge the notion that things are what they seem.
The subject, composition, and title of this work are borrowed from a painting by Henry Wallis of 1856 that depicts the dead body of Thomas Chatterton, an English poet who committed suicide by arsenic in 1770 at the age of seventeen; Chatterton served as an icon of unacknowledged genius to nineteenth-century romantics. Muniz chose Bosco chocolate syrup (the same brand used by Hitchcock to represent blood in his black and white films) to recreate Death of Chatterton because it forced him to work quickly before the chocolate dried out or melted under the hot studio lights. Though the original drawing is ephemeral, the photograph of it—produced, ironically, in an instant—is lasting.Subject matter
Muniz based this image on Henry Wallis' painting of the same name, painted in 1856. Wallis' painting depicts the dead body of Thomas Chatterton, an English poet who committed suicide at the age of 17 in 1770. Long regarded as an icon for the Romantics, Muniz revisits the subject of Chatterton's death in his "Pictures of Chocolate" series, in which he reproduced the original work by drawing in chocolate syrup on white plexi-glass, photographing it for the finished piece.Physical Description
A photograph of a drawing made with chocolate syrup on a piece of white plexi-glass.Primary Object ClassificationPhotographCollection AreaPhotographyRights
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Romantic (modern European styles)