Mental Floss

The Korean New Yorker: Do-Ho Suh

Andréa Fernandes

Back at the end of May, I promised to cover 13 artists from 13 different countries in the 13 "Feel Art Again" posts for the month of June. Due to personal issues, I've gotten a little behind schedule, but I'll be working this week to fulfill my promise.

At the request of reader Corrine S., today's "Feel Art Again" features the "amazingly detailed works" of sculptor Do-Ho Suh. Born in South Korea, Suh now splits his time between New York and South Korea.

1. Until the 11th grade, Do-Ho Suh planned to be a marine biologist; fish and marine biology were "the passion of [his] life." Although Suh changed his career path just before leaving for college, he still reads about fish "over and over again." According to Suh, he keeps books about fish on his bedside table because "they are quite relaxing and help [him] fall asleep too."

2. "Staircase" (above right), one of Suh's 2003 installations, is a red nylon reproduction of a staircase and floor in his landlord's apartment. To some, "Staircase" seems to reference Led Zeppelin's memorable song, "Stairway to Heaven." When asked about the reference, Suh replies, "I wouldn't deny it."

3. Suh is famous for his full-scale reproductions of his apartments made from semi-transparent fabrics. To create the spaces, Suh takes precise measurements of the residences, from the size of the rooms down to the size of the electrical outlets. Suh then converts the measurements into patterns and produces the fabric houses in Korea, assisted by master seamstresses. Each of Suh's fabric reproductions of his residences includes every detail of the original, with fabric fireplaces, bookshelves, refrigerators, locks, and more.

4. "Fallen Star 1/5" (above left) is considered by Suh to be "a sort of self-portrait." The sculpture depicts a collision of a traditional Korean house—modeled on Suh's parent's house—into a 19th-century American mansion—the apartment house Suh lived in while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Of "Fallen Star 1/5," Suh states, "It's my personal journey from Korea to the U.S. and the story of the house that came along with me, or brought me here." Suh actually has a whole story, "a simple story, like a fairy tale," behind the sculpture. (You can read the story here, under "Fairy-tale vision.")

Larger versions of "Fallen Star 1/5" and "Staircase" are available. Fans should check out Suh's Facebook page; Suh at Lehmann Maupin; and the Art:21 feature on Suh. "Feel Art Again" usually appears three times a week. Looking for a particular artist? Visit our archive for a complete listing of all 250+ artists that have been featured. You can e-mail us at with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists.