Envisioning Space @
Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art

The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu presented "Victor Raphael: Envisioning Space," a 20-year retrospective exhibition of works by the Los Angeles multimedia artist May 20 - July 23, 2000. The exhibition, which includes more than 100 works covering all phases of Raphael's career from 1980 to 2000, was on view in the museum's Gregg G. Juarez Gallery, West Gallery, and Mezzanine Gallery.

As a child growing up in the burgeoning Space Age, Victor Raphael, like thousands of other children, dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Eventually realizing that the odds of this happening were against him, he focused his attention on exploring and interpreting the cosmos in a way readily accessible to him: through his art.

(1) Victor Raphael, Los Angeles Studio, 2000, Photo: Alan Raphael

(2) Teotihuacan UFO II, 1979, photocollage, 4 3/4" x 6 3/4"

(3) Out of the Web II, 1987, acrylic and metal leaf on Spectra Polaroid, 4" x 4"
Collection: Nancy Berman & Alan Bloch

(4) Spiral Nebula, 1995, unque iris on paper with metal leaf, 35" x 30"
Collection: Glen Phipps

For the past two decades, Raphael has created a unique body of work that combines art and technology. By merging traditional media such as painting, photography and printmaking with modern electronic media, including video, digital printing and CD-ROM, he creates complex and beautiful images that expand conventional views of time and space.

The core of Raphael's art consists of modified Polaroids. He begins by taking Polaroid photographs of objects with grand, universal significance--running the gamut from NASA photographs from the Cosmos broadcast on TV to historic works of art found in the world's great museums. He then paints and applies gold and metal leaf directly to them to highlight or obscure specific features. In this way he transforms the Polaroid photograph from something mechanical into something handmade.

"The Polaroid is something that everybody understands," the artist has said."There is a democratic nature to it. I make something special out of something common." He continues the metamorphosis of his Polaroids when he scans them into a computer and, using digital technology, creates new prints and paintings--several many times larger than the standard Polaroid size. His CD-ROM, A Creative Journey, is included in the exhibition to allow viewers to experience yet another dimension of his cosmic imagery as well as a self-guided, interactive tour of his studio.

Regardless of the medium he employs, Raphael's universal images have a transcendental and spiritual feeling, as if they hover in a realm apart from linear time and space. Seeing his work takes one on a journey through a universe of timeless images, where historic and scientific facts intermingle with poetic fantasy.

Victor Raphael is a California native, born in Los Angeles in 1950. He studied art and theater at California State University Northridge and graduated from UCLA. He has also worked as a documentary filmmaker. He has exhibited throughout the nation and abroad. Locally, his work has been featured at S.P.A.R.C. Gallery in Venice (1986), Richard Green Gallery in Los Angeles (1987, 1989), and in a one-person show, Victor Raphael: Space Fields, Abstractions and Jackson Pollock, at the gallery of Santa Monica College (1991). In 1996 his work was selected as among the 50 best examples of Polaroid photography included in Polaroid 50: Art and Technology, an international touring exhibition commemorating the company's fiftieth anniversary. Currently, his work can be seen as part of a unit on art and space through the ages at ArtsEdNet, the J. Paul Getty Museum's highly-acclaimed art education website.

Raphael's CD-ROM, A Creative Journey, is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Bibliotheque Nationale de France; and the Skirball Museum and Cultural Center, Los Angeles. In August 1999, Raphael presented his CD-ROM at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the Siggraph Conference, an international conference for computer graphics and interactive technology.


Envisioning Space by Michael Zakian

Inner and Outer Space by Ruth Weisberg

A Creative Journey by Bob Goldstein

PDF file of the
exhibition catalog

Educator's poster
JPG front & back

A Virtual Reality Tour of Raphael's Weisman Retrospective

Experience a virtual tour of Victor Raphael's 20 year retrospective: Envisioning Space. Files are in QuickTime VR format. If you don't have the free QTVR browser plug-in installed, please click here.