Danh Voh is a Vietnam-born Danish artist who is currently showing an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum titled, "Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away". This exhibit, which chronicles the artist's career, is filled with a mix of highly personal and universally recognized objects, whose context within a museum brings up questions of ownership, western cultural values, and the museum’s role as an aesthetic center. Much of the exhibition engages with found objects, whose significance can be traced throughout Vo’s personal history, as well as engaging in his story as a member of Vietnamese diaspora after the Vietnam War and as a critical look at the imagery intrinsic to American identity.
This LibGuide is mean to be an overview of the exhibition by tracing the themes present in selected works and providing resources for further research, scholarship, and enrichment. In addition to resources about the exhibition, you will find links to interviews with the artist, reviews of the exhibition, in-depth looks the artist's process and history, as well as descriptions for finding further resources about the artist and themes present in his work.
Many art exhibitions display a host of themes, related resources and art historical information, the majority of which can now be accessed or previewed online. This guide attempts to combine resources that contextualize Danh Vo's exhibition, and organize them in a manner that allows for academic and professional use. This guide was created by two Graduate Library Science students at Pratt Institute interested in the creation of Library resources for art museum employees, students, researchers and professionals. On this Homepage you will find some basic resources, as well as an instruction video for using this LibGuide. All of the resources discussed in the LibGuide are either freely available online, or can be accessed with a New York Public Library (NYPL) membership.
Creating an overview of resources for an art exhibition can be a challenge, one which is further complicated when discussing a contemporary artist whose importance in the art world is yet to be widely acknowledged. Danh Vo is a Vietnam born Danish artist whose artwork largely consists of found art objects, appropriated images and photography. His work plays with the notion of context, and how placing recognizable objects into arts institutions changes the meaning and explores both the artist’s personal identity and the viewer’s own relationship with the imagery inherent in the work. This LibGuide traces the imagery and themes present in Danh Vo’s current exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Take My Breath Away, including Vietnamese diaspora, the Found Art movement, American commercialism and global culture, Western imperialism in Vietnam, and queer identity.
The Guggenheim Museum aims to provide audiences and visitors with as much critical context, interpretation, and engagement opportunities and platforms not only before, but during and after attending the Vo retrospective. Firstly, a comprehensive biography of the artist’s life, artistic practice, and selected exhibition history and works offers a solid basis for studying the themes and specific works more closely examined in this most recent exhibition. The exhibition page itself gives a brief overview of the artist’s biography, the exhibition's themes and selected works, and resources including: excerpts and links to press coverage, related events at the museum, exhibition views, and audio guide excerpts. This LibGuide includes a link to a post from the Guggenheim exhibition blog, Checklist, written by Caitlin Dover because it dives deeper into the themes in Vo’s work that are present in Take My Breath Away, and gives a view into the behind-the-scenes decisions by the curators that created the show. Available for streaming via SoundCloud, the Guggenheim has made publically accessible excerpts from its official audio guide; here there are in-depth and beautiful interviews between curators and Vo that shine a light on the intricate and complex facets of the works in the exhibition as well as Vo’s working practice and lived experience. Lastly, the Guggenheim provides the exhibition's official press kit online as a PDF available for download. Created for industry professionals, the kit gives succinct information on the people and timeline involved in creating the show and interesting events at the museum related to the exhibition.
Outside of the Guggenheim’s resources, the guide would be remiss to not mention that Vo is represented internationally by Xavier Hufkens Gallery in Brussels. The artist page on the gallery’s page give a clear and illustrative biography, artist monographs available for sale, images for notable works, upcoming and current gallery and museum exhibitions, as well as the artist’s curriculum vitae as a PDF download. The Guggenheim exhibition page itself provides a link to the New York Times exhibition review and with good reason; Roberta Smith’s smart critical prose creates a valuable framework of Vo's work to both consummate museum-goers and newcomers to New York cultural institutions.
And finally, the exhibition catalogue text is immensely useful to understanding Vo’s work in the context of this specific show and beyond. This exhibition, Take My Breath Away, is the first solo retrospective of the artist’s work in a major, collecting,United States museum. As such, the exhibition catalogue written and edited by head curators Katherine Brinson and Susan Thompson is a preeminent and comprehensive bibliographic source of Vo’s life and work of the last fifteen years.
This exhibition at the Guggenheim is a stunning and cerebral experience of Danh Vo’s work and artistic practice. It would be a disservice to the artist and curators to see it without engaging with the wealth of historical, political, cultural, and material narratives that Vo has so deftly woven together. This LibGuide hopes to serves as ready and enjoyable access point to that information.
Below you will find links to general resouces that will provide an overview to the exhibition and the artist.
This audio is the introduction to the audio guide provided by the Guggenheim Museum. It provides a quick overview of the artist and the exhibition.
Book accessible via NYPL
You can search the titles below on the NYPL catalog (link above) by title and author.