Vietnam-born artist Danh Vo wins ninth Hugo Boss Prize

Vo’s multinational perspective and thematic sophistication pushed him ahead of the other finalists.

On 1 November 2012 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced artist Danh Vo as the ninth winner of the Hugo Boss Prize. The artist, who was born in Vietnam and grew up in Denmark, edged out a number of other young artists to claim the biannual award.

Danh Vo, 'Tombstone for Phùng Vo', 2010, absolute black granite and gold. Photo courtesy the artist and Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin.

A cultural sensibility

It was reportedly the unique cultural sensibility in Vo’s work that distinguished him from the other finalists. As the jury panel stated in a recent press release,

We have chosen to award the Hugo Boss Prize 2012 to Danh Vo in recognition of the vivid and influential impact he has made on the currents of contemporary art making. Vo’s assured and subtle work expresses a number of urgent concerns related to cultural identity, politics, and history, evoking these themes through shifting, poetic forms that traverse time and geography.

A colourful upbringing

Danh Vo was born in Saigon in 1975. At the age of four he and his family fled the country on a homemade boat and they were later rescued at sea by a Danish ship. Vo was then raised in Denmark, and the circumstances surrounding his transnational upbringing are a common motif in his artwork. Vo has participated in a number of international exhibitions and biennales, including the 2012 New Museum Triennial and the 2008 Yokohama Triennale.

Prize age range

Other short-listed artists include Trisha DonnellyRashid JohnsonMonika SosnowskaTris Vonna-Michell and Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie. The ages of the finalists ranged from late twenties to early forties.

Cash prize and exhibition

The Hugo Boss Prize, a biannual award first given in 1996 and sponsored by the German luxury fashion house from which it takes its name, is awarded for outstanding achievement in the field of contemporary art and carries with it a USD100,000 award. In addition to the cash prize, the Guggenheim Museum in New York will show an exhibition of Vo’s work in the spring of 2013.


Related Topics: Vietnamese artists, art and globalisation, art prizes

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