Lot 443
  • 443

Danh Vô

300,000 - 400,000 USD
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  • Danh Vô
  • Untitled (Coca-Cola)
  • gold leaf on cardboard
  • 24 by 53 1/2 in. 61 by 135.9 cm.
  • Executed in 2011.


Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2011)
Acquired by the present owner from the above


This work is in very good condition overall. The tears, losses and creases in the surface of the cardboard are inherent to the artist's working method and the found nature of the material. Framed in a Plexiglas box
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Danh Vō is an artist whose personal history is inextricable from his work. Born in Vietnam in 1975, the year that marked the end of the American War, his family became victims of the Cambodian-Vietnamese conflict that broke out immediately afterwards. Fleeing the country by sea, when the artist was four, with hopes of reaching America, his family ultimately settled in Denmark. Vō's conceptual oeuvre is filled with themes of displaced identity, immigration, colonization and global communication. An artist engaged with intensely complex questions and yet adeptly distills such themes into objects of unique splendor; it is of no coincidence that he has been selected to represent Denmark in the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. A cerebral artist that refuses to forgo any aesthetic quality in his work, he has also been selected to curate François Pinault’s private museum Punta Della Dogana concurrently with his representation in Venice.

Untitled (Coca-Cola) is a vision of shimmering gold leaf with the brand’s logo delicately coated in resplendent gold that lies in contrast to the steady comfortable appeal of the unfolded cardboard box beneath.  The present work creates a dialogue between fine art and everyday throwaway material. To create these works, Vō collects used consumer packaging from Vietnam and applies gold leaf to the surface. The mixture between the gold leaf and the consumer goods packaging also serves to heighten the idealization of the commercial and commoditized life in the West. The cardboard packaging and its association to commerce and the commodity have proven a valuable material for many of art history’s most innovative artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Vō takes up this legacy and transforms the medium of cardboard packaging in his own inimitable manner. Creating a system of works based around branded cardboard boxes covered in delicate gold leaf, Vō finds his own voice. This work is very graceful in its execution, remixing the bureaucratic aesthetics of conceptual art such as the letter with ephemeral material with its romantic lineage that evokes the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Underpinning all of his work is a fascination with the phenomena of cultural and commercial cross-pollination associated with globalization. Vō has endured and embraced his own form of globalization through the myriad exhibitions and residencies; each one has an impact on his work. The artist once claimed: “I don’t believe that things come from within you, to me, things come out of the continuous dialogue you have with your surroundings.” (quoted in Daisy Jones, “Danh Vō’s Cinderella story”, Dazed, August, 2014) In the case of the Brand series, Vō engages directly with his Vietnamese background, taking the consumer packaging and branding it with what has now become the signature Vō gold leaf. The object before us is of an unshakable beauty and yet it is loaded with profound conceptual significance. Coca-Cola is undeniably the most globally recognized brand and as such is an emblem of capitalism and its infiltration of other cultures. Untitled (Coca-Cola) alludes to the phenomena of individual consciousness and even culture in general slowly becoming subjected to the influence of mass media and advertising. The cardboard box is a loaded object as it in these very containers that the product is disseminated into the global market.

The idea to create a series based on the collected packing of the world’s most global companies that are then adorned in gold leaf imbues each work with a poetic sense of loss and separation. This relates very clearly to another well-known series of Vō’s titled We the People. In this series, the Statue of Liberty is copied and split into its constituent parts destined to be spread all over the world and remain separate. Both the Brands and We the People series are remarkable mediations on the ability of objects, ideas, and culture to be propagated outwards to find themselves in entirely new and variegated contexts and help foster entirely new connections and discourses. In his use of the gold leaf, Vō allows the work to resonate on one of the few globally appreciated markers of quality: gold as signifier of value. There arises a personal parallel with Untitled (Coca-Cola) that is sent out around the world with that of the life of the nomadic artist that Vō has made his modus operandi. Such a work is example of a truly time-spanning project by an artist whose ambition knows no bounds.