Hammer Projects: Adam Cvijanovic

Hammer Projects: Adam Cvijanovic

Adam Cvijanovic's large-scale landscape painting spans the Hammer Lobby Wall, evoking the Hudson River School and 19th-century cycloramas. His room-sized installations—made of smaller Tyvek panels mounted side-by-side—portray beautiful, yet charged natural scenes that challenge the seemingly sacred divisions between mass-produced and the unique, the decorative and the profound.

Hammer Projects are curated by James Elaine.

Hammer Projects: Adam Cvijanovic. Installation view at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. February 6-August 7, 2005. Photo by Joshua White.


Adam Cvijanovic was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1960 and currently lives in New York City. A self-taught artist, Cvijanovic is an adjunct professor at Rhode Island School of Design. Recent solo exhibitions include Ideal City at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia; Hurricane Party and Disko Bay, both at Bellwether Gallery, New York; and New City Project at Steven Sclaroff. His work has been included in recent group exhibitions at Compact Art, Barcelona; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence; and BAM Brooklyn.


By Steven Vincent

Although many words can describe glaciers—magnificent, desolate, pristine—ambiguous is not one of them. Trillions of tons of frozen water massed in continent-size sheets grinding over 10 percent of the earth’s surface tend to resist interpretation and relativistic philosophizing. Like all forces of nature, they demand acceptance on their own terms. Glaciers, in short, are just that—glaciers.

And so we might wonder about an eighty-by-twenty-foot depiction of an imaginary glacier, rendered in precise, scientifically accurate terms and mounted on a wall at the UCLA Hammer Museum. What more can a painting—even one of these dimensions—tell us about massive ice floes? A lot, it turns out, especially if the work is created by Adam Cvijanovic, a New York artist who specializes in room-size wall murals. With characteristic simplicity, subtlety, and a kind of aesthetic wisdom, Cvijanovic captures the majesty of glaciers while revealing in the hard, cold facts of their existence surprising layers of meaning and associations, ranging from ecology to physics to the destiny of human beings and the stars. On an even more profound level, the work suggests the artist’s own belief in an intimate universe where the laws of nature yield to a larger, more redemptive power of hope and renewal. A portrayal of one of the most inhospitable regions on earth, Glacier is far from inhospitable itself. 

Cvijanovic was born in 1960 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His Serbian father was a successful architect and close associate of master builder Walter Gropius; his mother is a New Englander who traces her American roots to the seventeenth century. After leaving school at the age of seventeen, Cvijanovic traveled to New York to try his fortune in the art world. He began with traditional oils on canvas, but a 1999 commission to paint a mural in a client’s house woke him to the possibilities of combining art and architecture to create, as he puts it, “a flat, deadpan, matter-of-fact background that reflects the American sensibility.” Working with New York dealer Becky Smith, he went on to fashion interior murals depicting such scenes as grassy fields, crowded beaches, and Las Vegas’s “neon graveyard.”





Steven Vincent is a freelance journalist who has lived in New York City for twenty-five years. He specializes in investigative journalism, art criticism, and, more recently, writing about the Middle East and the war in Iraq. He recently published In the Red Zone: A Journey into the Soul of Iraq.


Hammer Projects are organized by James Elaine, and are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and members of the Hammer Circle.

Adam Cvijanovic's residency is made possible by a grant from the Nimoy Foundation.