vocabulary of solitude

  • vocabulary of solitude, 2014-2016

    Ugo Rondinone: vocabulary of solitude (solo), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

    Photo: Stefan Altenburger

    Courtesy of studio rondinone


Vocabulary of Solitude is an installation of 45 lifelike clown sculptures, whose prismatic outfits contrast with expressionless faces. Drawing on art historical movements such as Romanticism and Surrealism, the installation also references the aesthetics of popular culture and the classical origins of clowning and mime performance. The forty-five clowns are each named individually based on the actions they perform:
be / breath / sleep / dream / wake / rise / sit / hear / look / think / stand / walk / pee / shower / dress / drink / fart / shit / read / laugh / cook / smell / taste / eat / clean / write / daydream / remember / cry / nap / touch / feel / moan / enjoy / float / love / hope / wish / sing / dance / fall / curse / yawn / undress / lie.
Together they describe a day in the life of a single person at home during a twenty-four-hour loop of isolation.


  • Born 1964 in Brunnen, Switzerland
  • Based in New York, USA
  • Photo: Christian Grund

Projecting symbolic images associated with Romanticism and the natural world (clouds, rainbows, mountains, etc.) into our everyday life, Rondinone's work reveals the ambivalent nature of our contemporary life. In Vocabulary of Solitude, clowns in psychedelic dress are representing 45 actions of an individual during 24 hours spent alone, such as dreaming, farting, wishing, lying. Their blank facial expressions and reflective poses contradict our expectations. According to Rondinone, "Timelessness, a fragmentary and subconscious relationship with the past and memory, and our ambiguous relationship with the details of our environment are the foundation of much of my work. Rather than a distorted reality, my work is an effort towards hyper-reality."

Selected Works & Awards

2018 Ugo Rondinone: Liverpool Mountain, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
2016 Ugo Rondinone: Vocabulary of solitude (solo), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
2011 Yokohama Triennale 2011, Our magic hour : How much of the world can we know?, Kanagawa, Japan


Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (10F)


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