Danh Vo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Galerie Buchholz, Cologne
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    The Hague, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Transforming the Known, June 8 - September 29, 2013

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I see myself, like any other person, as a container that has inherited these infinite traces of history without inheriting any direction.” Danh Vo

    The works of Danh Vo universally bridge his intimate experiences of cultural displacement and migration, with broader implications of the consequences of worldwide importation and exportation of both goods and ideas. Growing up in Denmark and born in Vietnam, Vo is principally concerned with analyzing communication through highlighting contradictions in our contemporary society. He actively subverts institutional constructs, the imposed rule of society. He fervently denies clarifications and does not hold expectations of his audience’s understandings; above all, Vo seeks his oeuvre to simply be. The present lot does just that, through the synthesis of modern anxiety tempered by a direct composition immersed in visual power.

    Alphabet (B) confronts us with the immediacy of a dichotomy: the rich delicacy of gold leaf and the detritus of a cardboard box. Amassing a collection of boxes from Vietnam, Vo breathes new life into these spoiled found objects, earnestly illustrating their reality, through his sensitive application of gold. In the artist’s home of Southeast Asia, sanctified objects are signified with gold leaf—in this manner, the present lot arbitrates reality with ideality and neatly contextualizes venerable traditions with present day artistic processes. The letter B, dominating the foreground, is extrapolated from the Bowditch alphabet as standardized in the maritime community in the early 19th century. This global language facilitated the centralization of communication between the West and the East, supporting international trade and ultimately heralding colonization. In describing the amalgamation of the personal and historical in his works, Vo has elucidated, “I don’t really believe in my own story, not as a singular thing anyway. It weaves in and out of other people’s private stories of local history and geopolitical history. I see myself, like any other person, as a container that has inherited these infinite traces of history without inheriting any direction. I try to compensate for this, I’m trying to make sense out of it and give it a direction for myself.” (Danh Vo in conversation with Francesca Pagliuca, “No Way Out: An Interview with Danh Vo,” Mousse Magazine, February 2009)

Property from an Important Private European Collection


Alphabet (B)

gold leaf on unfolded cardboard box
36 1/4 x 85 7/8 in. (92 x 218 cm)

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $329,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 November 2015 7pm