Monday, May 10, 2010

Do-Ho Suh and the Haunting Sculpture

Recently a friend sent me a wonderful video featuring Picasso's "Guernica." (A mural depicting the bombing of the town and citizens during the Spanish Civil War.) Feeling the impact of "Guernica" got me thinking about how art can reach into us in so many ways. I remembered an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum a few years back with a sculpture that still haunts me with its beauty and ambiguity.

The artist's name is Do-Ho Suh and the piece that came to mind was a stunning sculpture titled, "Some/One." As I walked into the room where the piece was featured, I was taken with the monumental size and simplicity of this Asian emperor style robe and how beautifully it shimmered. There was a grace to the form and the way it arced around the floor as I approached from the back to the front of the piece. (Please double click on images for enlargements.)

Upon closer observation, I noticed layers - like armor plate. When I was even closer still, I realized what I was looking at and it startled me. The robe was entirely made of military dog-tags. I was stunned. Suddenly the sculpture took on another meaning, another dimension. I have never forgotten the image and the impact it had on me.
As you look at the images what feelings does it conjure up? How would you interpret the title, "Some/One?"

When you face the front of the sculpture, the robe is open and the form underneath is made with mirrors.
You can see yourself imposed on the form. In your opinion, what was the artist asking us to consider?

Is there a work of art that haunts your memory? Why do you think that is?


  1. Wow! What an experience. I can imagine how much it would effect some/one... I totally love the idea of some becoming one... it is war? is it sacrifice? So many possibilities. If it was done about something peaceful instead of dog tags, I'd be thinking communes, growing together, living as in a village. Anyway, excellent choice for discussion. I'm still pondering... thanks. JD

  2. Hi JD, Nice to hear from you. You're right about the pondering thing. I do it everytime I think of the piece. BTW what haunts your memory? RA

  3. Thanks for putting me on your mailing list. I love reading your insightful articles. You're right about the robe sculpture - it's truly haunting... and stunning. I'd love to see the Guernica video. That's one of Picasso's paintings that has haunted me for 40 years. Leslie.

  4. You're right, Leslie. Guernica is a haunting mural. Here's the URL for the Guernica video:

    Rules of the blog won't allow me to create a link on a comment page, but you can try highlighting it for a copy and paste. R

  5. I love the way you gently present thoughts for your readers to consider. You so graciously present your view. It's highly effective.

    YOur writings remind me of a book by Barbara Kingsolver titled, "The Lacuna." The author subtly weaves in her views... if you ever decide to write an art book, perhaps that book might inspire you. Mary S.

  6. Thanks, Mary S. I'll look for the book. I like Kingsolver's works and want to be sure to read this one. R

  7. I enjoyed the piece by Do-ho Suh and think about all the fallen very fitting that Do-Ho Suh used their dog tags to make a robe for the emperor.

    I, too, have a piece upon seeing it that haunts me... it was painted by the Greek painter Nicolas Gysis (1842-1901) and is in the National Gallery of Athens. It is titled the Slave Market and depicts a mother giving a last kiss to a tiny child... about 5 years old as she is being led away by an old man who has bought her.

    I find the image heart and gut-wrenching, as well as shaking me emotionally. It makes me think of women's fate in society over the ages, and indeed how in many places it hasn't really gotten much better. How ever in Western society... they are still bought and sold underground. Jackie (Naxos)

  8. I remember seeing this piece at SAM. It was stunning, and as you say, haunting. Thanks for reminding me. MAR

  9. Beautiful work... thanks for showing it to us...must have been wonderful to be in the same room!! Connie