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Isamu Noguchi / Danh Vo – a cloud and flowers

Dec 21, 2021

a cloud and flowers, an ethereal installation by Danh Vo, in dialogue with Isamu Noguchi, is on view at Mudam Luxembourg through September 19, 2022.

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Photography by Nick Ash

At Mudam, Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand Duc Jean, contemporary artist Danh Vo has created a poetic installation in dialogue with the late modernist sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, whose ground-breaking oeuvre has long been influential on the artist. The installation, “a cloud and flowers”, pairs Noguchi’s famous Akari lamps with a series of objects – plant and mineral based – including rocks and marble fragments sourced by the artist in Italy, planks of wood, and pots with foliage and flowers from a nearby forest. The plants were selected with a local gardener and will shift over the course of the exhibition along with the light and seasons.

“Noguchi’s cultural identity as a Japanese American, which found expression in a formal experimentation that crossed eastern and western cultures, resonates with formal, thematic and conceptual preoccupations around origins and cultural translation that run through Vo’s sculptural works and installations,” writes museum curator, Suzanne Cotter.

Vo’s sculptures and installations often reveal the unexpected connections between past and to present and across different parts of the world, particularly within the context of global politics. Through objects and artefacts, he sheds light on deeper meanings found in such things as flowers or wood, which might otherwise go unnoticed.

“a cloud and a flower”, a touching and quite ethereal installation, is set within the museum’s grand pavilion, in a building designed by Chinese-American architect, I.M. Pei, another influential artistic figure who straddled both eastern and western cultures in his seminal career. The pavilion’s extra high ceilings and glass panes provide a luminous setting for this installation, which at its core is very much about light, life, the change of seasons. The Akari lamps, originally designed in 1951 were inspired by the paper lanterns used by fisherman in the tiny island of Gifu. The Japanese word Akari denotes both light and weightlessness. In the words of Noguchi, ‘the magic of paper transforms the cold electricity in the original light – the sun – so that its warmth can continue to fill our bedrooms at night.’

“a cloud and flowers” follows two exhibitions from 2018 by Vo, which also referenced Noguchi: “Noguchi for Dan Vo: Counterpoint,” at M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong, and “Danh Vo. Take My Breath Away”, at the SMK National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen in 2019.

“a cloud and flowers” will be on view at Mudam Luxembourg until September 19, 2022.



All photos: Installation view, a cloud and flower, Isamu Noguchi / Danh Vo. Photo by Nick Ash
All photos: Installation view: a cloud and flowers, Isamu Noguchi/Danh Vo. Photo by Nick Ash

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