Lot 20. Two Kennedy Administration Cabinet Room Chairs


Danh Vo ( Danish, born in Vietnam, 1975 )

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General Description

In his practice of appropriation, deconstruction, and reconfiguration, Danh Vo considers quotidian objects to be witnesses to narratives of both personal and global significance. Drawing on the tradition of the readymade, Vo recontextualizes these objects, referencing both his personal history as a Vietnamese émigré and the transna­tional legacies of colonialism, capitalism, displacement, and immigration.

In this work, Vo presents fragments of two chairs that furnished the White House Cabinet Room during the Kennedy administration. The chairs, once occupied by President John F. Kennedy and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, were acquired by Vo in an auction of McNamara’s possessions. McNamara, who served under both Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, played a decisive role in pursuing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In stripping the chairs of their leather upholstery and interior lining, Vo renders them nonfunctional and uniden­tifiable. The resulting fragments, rid of any recognizable significance, raise questions about the subjective nature of historical truth and the erosion of collective memory.

Excerpt from

  • Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 224.

Related Multimedia

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Join Dr. Cornelia Homburg, independent scholar and curator, as she investigaes the impact of van Gogh's intense focus on his well-known still-life works. This program is part of the Richard R. Brettell Lecture Series.

Web Resources

  • The Guggenheim
    Explore essays, video, audio, press coverage, blog entries, and photographs related to the 2018 exhibition _Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away. _

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica
    Review Robert McNamara's involvement in the Vietnam War and role in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.