The Moon

13.9.18 - 20.1.19

From painting to virtual reality, superstition to science, myths to missions, fantasies to space colonies, Louisiana invited visitors on a trip to the Moon – into space and into ourselves. ARTnews proclaimed THE MOON to be the most intriguing show of the season.

This large-scale exhibition at Louisiana highlighted the role, the importance and the fascinating power of the Moon. The exhibition presented more than 200 works and objects —and showed how the round white disc is reflected in our art and cultural history. From Galileo’s moon map to Norman Foster’s plans for 3D-printed moon bases.

The exhibition mixed art, film, music, literature, architecture, cultural history, design and natural science into a vibrant and diverse portrait of our closest neighbor in the sky. Presenting the Moon as a fundamental symbol and as a goal of romantic and artistic longings, scientific inquiry, existential issues — and the urge for political expansion.

With this exhibition, Louisiana commemorated the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the Moon and also called attention to a strong and renewed interest in the Moon both in art and as a springboard for a new Space Race with all its strategic and economic implications.

The exhibition was supported by Aage & Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond and was organized by Louisiana in collaboration with Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo.


Louisiana’s exhibition lead up to the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, Apollo 11, in 1969, and the moon landing was one of the focuses of the exhibition, as a provisional culmination of the deeply rooted cultural conceptions that were invested in the space race.

The moon landing was not only a technological breakthrough; it was a spectacular and thoroughly aestheticized event that was transmitted and distributed globally in images – and was both anticipated and interpreted in the visual art and the broader visual culture of the 1960s.

At the official invitation of NASA, the American artist Robert Rauschenberg was present at the Apollo 11 launch and writes in his collage work Stoned Moon Book from his time there: “My head said for the first time moon was going to have company and knew it.” The work has been lent out by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in New York and is one of the exhibition’s many works that has rarely or never been exhibited before in Scandinavia.


The exhibition was organized around six themes which together painted a multifaceted portrait of the Moon and its significance in modern culture. Read about all the themes — Moonlight, Selenography, The Moon of Myth, The Moon Landing, The Colonization of Space and Deep Time — below.

The distinctive light of the Moon has fascinated visual artists for centuries, and is a fundamental motif in the landscape painting and poetry of Romanticism. For painters like C.D. Friedrich, Joseph Wright of Derby, J.C. Dahl and C.W. Eckersberg, the frailty of human life is contrasted with the Moon’s eternal light. In contemporary art too, moonlight is thematized by artists like Katie Paterson and Darren Almond as an experience of nature that is disappearing with the increasing contamination from artificial light.

The scientific description of the Moon’s surface – called after the Greek moon goddess Selene – arose at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the Italian Galileo Galilei studied the moon through a telescope and published his discoveries. One room in the exhibition tells the story of the mapping of the Moon—with a selection of items that ranges from Galileo’s original watercolours over the beautiful handmade maps of the 1700s to the very newest minutely detailed images of the Moon’s surface published by NASA.

The Moon is the object of scientific study, but it is also above all the domain of the imagination. This thematic section explores the moon of myth in a dialogue of moon-gods, folklore, urban myths and the surrealistic art of among others Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell and Remedios Varo. Younger artists too, such as Marie Kølbæk Iversen and Camille Henrot, investigate the role of the Moon as a point of intersection between inner and outer space.

In the years around the first manned moon landing in 1969 the race for the Moon dominated the cultural agenda as its philosophical implications exercised the great artists of the period – with equal proportions of optimism about progress and ideological critique. Among other things we show Robert Rauschenberg’s works from his time at NASA, the Austrian Kiki Kogelnik’s paintings of women floating in outer space, and the Frenchman Yves Klein’s “planetary reliefs”.

Who owns the Moon? Although a UN treaty defines outer space as the common property of mankind, today were are seeing the contours of a new space age. The Moon is no longer just a goal in itself, but a launching platform for missions farther out into the universe, and nations and private corporations are both exploring the possibility of moonbases and mining activities in outer space. In this section we look at the colonization of space through among other things Foster+Partners’ moonbase for ESA, Neri Oxman’s experimental space suits and the artist Trevor Paglen’s photographs of the secret spy satellites that hide among the stars of the night sky.

The ecological crisis on Earth has led researchers to the conclusion that we are now in a new geological age, “the Anthropocene”, in which humans influence the Earth on a planetary scale. How can art capture the time of the planet, the deep time that transcends human comprehension? In this section we show among other things artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs, which track the orbit of the Moon as a band of light across the night sky, and Alicja Kwade’s abstract sculptures, which translate motifs such as gravity fields and planetary orbits into stone and steel.


The MOON included several new art works created especially for this exhibition. The artist Nanna Debois Buhl had produced a graphic work that investigated the early computer technology developed for the moon missions, and the film director Michael Madsen had developed an interactive installation linked with a personality test for astronauts. In addition the American avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson had created a new virtual-reality installation specifically for the Louisiana exhibition.


From Casper David Friedrich and Joseph Wright of Derby to Salvador Dalí, Yves Klein and onwards to a.o. Darren Almond, Alicja Kwade and Hito Steyerl. From moonlight images of romanticism to surrealist fantasies, space age-design, contemporary art and works created for the exhibitions such as an interactive astronaut personality test by Danish film director Michael Madsen and a virtual reality installation by American avantgarde artist Laurie Anderson. For the full overview of the artists that were represented in the exhibition please see below.

Gertrude Abercrombie, US, 1909-1977 / Darren Almond, GB, 1971 / Laurie Anderson & Hsin-Chien Huang, US, 1947 & TW, 1966 / Galina Balashova, RU, 1931 / Rosa Barba, DE/IT, 1972 / Nanna Debois Buhl, DK, 1975 / James Carpenter, GB, 1840-1899 / Joseph Cornell, US, 1903-1972 / Donato Creti, IT, 1671-1749 / J.C. Dahl, NO, 1788-1857 / Salvador Dalí, SP, 1904-1989 / Joseph Wright of Derby, GB, 1734-1797 / Marlene Dumas, SA, 1953 / Charles and Ray Eames, US, 1907-1978 & 1912-1988 / C.W. Eckersberg, DK, 1783-1853 / Max Ernst, DE, 1891-1976 / Foster & Partners, GB / Caspar David Friedrich, DE, 1744-1840 / Isa Genzken, DE, 1948 / Richard Hamilton, GB, 1922-2011 / Camille Henrot, FR, 1978 / Marie Kølbæk Iversen, DK, 1981 / Yves Klein, FR, 1928-1962 / Kiki Kogelnik, AT, 1935-1987 / Stanley Kubrick, US, 1928-1999 / Alicja Kwade, DE, 1979 / Cath Le Couteur, UK / Carl Julius von Leypold, DE, 1928-1862 / Michael Madsen & Jonathan Houser, DK, 1971 & 1986 / George Méliès, FR, 1928-1962 / Edvard Munch, NO, 1863-1944 / James Nasmyth, GB, 1808-1890 / James Arthur O’Connor, IE, 1792-1841 / Yasuaki Onishi, JP, 1979 / Neri Oxman, US/IL, 1976 / Wolfgang Paalen, DE/AT/ME, 1905-1959 / Trevor Paglen, US, 1974 / Katie Paterson, UK, 1981 / Victor Prouvé, FR, 1858-1943 / Robert Rauschenberg, US, 1925-2080 / Man Ray, US, 1890-1976 / Rachel Rose, US, 1986 / Mark Rothko, US, 1890-1976 / Rotraut, DE/FR, 1938 / Tom Sachs, US, 1966 / Kiki Smith, US, 1954 / Hito Steyerl, DE, 1966 / August Strindberg, SE, 1848-1912 / Hiroshi Sugimoto, JP, 1948 / Malena Szlam, CL, 1979 / SEArch & CLOUDS Architecture Office / Remedios Varo, SP, 1908-1963ndberg, SE, 1848-1912 / Hiroshi Sugimoto, JP, 1948 / Malena Szlam, CL, 1979 / SEArch & CLOUDS Architecture Office / Remedios Varo, SP, 1908-1963

International acclaim

“The most intriguing show of the season? It seems like it will be hard to beat “The Moon: From Inner Worlds to Outer Space.””

“Louisiana’s new exhibition, “The Moon: From Inner Worlds to Outer Space,” reveals, humans have wanted the moon for most of our history — wanted to understand it, capture it, land on it, own it.”

” It’s an ambitious exhibition, seven years in the making…What impresses, though, is not the show’s dizzying scope but, rather, the ingenious juxtapositions across time and genres.”