Lu­nar land­ing

A new Dan­ish mis­sion to ex­plore the cul­tural pull of the moon

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Late in his life, Mark Rothko aban­doned the ec­static hues of his best-known work in favour of a darker pal­ette, cre­at­ing a se­ries of black-on-grey paint­ings that seemed to re­flect his de­clin­ing men­tal state (the great ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ist would even­tu­ally take his own life in 1970). Yet Marie Lau­rberg, cu­ra­tor at Den­mark’s Lou­i­si­ana Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, be­lieves they re­flect far more than an in­ner strug­gle. Hon­ing in on a par­tic­u­lar paint­ing, bor­rowed from Wash­ing­ton DC for an up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, she says: ‘It’s from 1969. And it looks ex­actly like the land­scapes brought back that year by the first as­tro­nauts on the moon. It talks about empti­ness in a land­scape de­void of any signs of life.’ The ex­hi­bi­tion, ‘The Moon: From In­ner Worlds to Outer Space’, an­tic­i­pates the 50th an­niver­sary of Neil Arm­strong’s gi­ant leap for mankind. It of­fers a kalei­do­scopic view on the Earth’s only nat­u­ral satel­lite, cov­er­ing art, of course – stretch­ing from the Re­nais­sance to the present day – but also dis­ci­plines as di­verse as as­tron­omy, de­sign and film. It’s an am­bi­tious ex­hi­bi­tion, seven years in the mak­ing. Lau­rberg once thought it im­pos­si­ble. ‘Dur­ing my job in­ter­view, Poul Erik [Tøjner, Lou­i­si­ana’s direc­tor] asked, “What is the dream ex­hi­bi­tion that you’ll never be able to make?” And I said, “An ex­hi­bi­tion about the moon,”’ she re­calls. ‘I wanted to pair art with im­ages from Nasa’s Lu­nar Re­con­nais­sance Or­biter. It’s not easy to find a mu­seum that is pre­pared to take this leap of imag­i­na­tion.’

Hap­pily, Lau­rberg found a kin­dred spirit in Tøjner. ‘Art world bound­aries are con­stantly mov­ing,’ he says. ‘There’s a cul­tural as­pect in ev­ery work of art, and sim­i­larly, a lot of cul­tural and sci­en­tific arte­facts con­tain aes­thetic val­ues and po­ten­tial nar­ra­tives.’ Un­der Tøjner’s di­rec­tor­ship, the mu­seum has staged cross­over ex­hi­bi­tions on the Arc­tic and the Arab world, though this is the first

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