Willkommen im Zentrum für Internationale Lichtkunst Unna

  • Brigitte Kowanz, Immersion, 2018, Neon, mirror, 80 x 80 x 19 cm. © Brigitte Kowanz, Bildrecht Wien | © www.frankvinken.com
  • Tracey Emin, You Never Should have Loved Me The way you did, 2014, neon, transformer, 36 3/4 x 69 1/2 x 0 5/16 in. (93.4 x 176.5 x .8 cm) © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2019. | © www.frankvinken.com
  • Keith Sonnier, Ballroom Chandelier, 2008, Chandelier Series, neon and argon tubes, cable, plexiglass and transformer, 188x102x61 cm / 74x40x24 in, courtesy Keith Sonnier Studio and Galleria Fumagalli Milano © Keith Sonnier / Artist’s Rights Society (ARS), | © www.frankvinken.com
  • Bruce Nauman, Double Slap in the Face, 1985, neon tubing mounted on metal monolith, 80 x 127 x  20 cm, Edition 5/5, Sammlung Froehlich, Stuttgart | © www.frankvinken.com


Artists: Tracey Emin (GB) | Jeppe Hein (DK) | Brigitte Kowanz (AT) | Mario Merz (IT) | François Morellet (FR) | Jan van Munster (NL) | Maurizio Nannucci (IT) | Bruce Nauman (US) | Bruno Peinado (FR)| Anselm Reyle (DE) | Bernardi Roig (ES) | Keith Sonnier (US) | Olivia Steele (US) | Giny Vos (NL)

March 14 – November 29, 2020

With NEON DELIGHT, the Centre for International Light Art in Unna dedicates an exhibition to the material used most frequently in light art. From March 14 to November 29, the museum brings together the most well-known international artists working in neon-based light art in its unique, underground, raw spaces. Works from the 1960s to the present provide a representative overview of neon in light art.

The unique work Never Move Far From Color (2017–18) by Maurizio Nannucci shows that neon art is often language-based art in the form of text, writing, and its design. Tracey Emin lets us know in yellow-neon writing: You Never Should Have Loved Me The Way You Did (2014). Neon art is poetry, it reveals something personal—it gets close. Jeppe Hein’s work Who Am I Why Am I Where Am I Going (2017) also speaks directly to viewers. On the other hand, the work It Is Both A Blessing And A Curse To Feel Everything So Very Deeply (2016) by Olivia Steele does not pose any questions but relies solely on the power and opposition of just two words: “blessing” and “curse.” But neon art is also geometric abstraction entirely without words and is often highly fragile . François Morellet, Keith Sonnier and Anselm Reyle are artists in the exhibition who have created geometric-abstract, tangible neon art—in some cases in extremely complex, expansive ways. Several works presented in the exhibition—featuring immaterial light sources shimmering in various hues—are extremely subtle, such as those by Brigitte Kowanz or Bruce Nauman. Nauman’s work The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (1967) refers to the immaterial, mystical power of light, and the role of the artist. Others participating in the show are Bruno Peinado, Giny Vos, Jan van Munster, Bernardi Roig und Mario Merz.

Fluorescent tubes and neon lighting have fascinated both artists and the public for many years. The sensual, dazzling radiance and the intense signaling effect of neon art is what makes it so appealing—in addition to its proximity to the realm of the technical, the artificial, the world of products, pop, and advertising. Physics and metaphysics are rarely merged so closely in art. Initially, however, glass tubes filled with neon gas had a purely signaling character and were used in cities at night for advertising purposes beginning in the twentieth century; they illuminated Paris, New York, Berlin, or Las Vegas. The gas that creates the effect we know as neon light when electrically charged was discovered by the end of the nineteenth century. Since the 1960s in particular, neon has also been a theme of visual art. The production of such works of art has not changed since then: even today, each tube is individually blown by a glassblower and filled with gas.

The exhibition was realized in close partnership with:

Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo | Sammlung Froehlich, Stuttgart | Picasso Museum, Málaga & Kunsthalle Bremen | Studio Bruce Nauman, Galisteo, New Mexico, USA | Galleria Fumagalli, Mailand | White Cube LTD, London | Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska, Salzburg | Studio Kowanz, Wien | MAM Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art, Wien | Studio Olivia Steele, Berlin | Studio Anselm Reyle, Berlin | Studio Jeppe Hein, Berlin | RHC Eindhoven, Sammlung Kunstlicht in de Kunst

Kindly supported by:


Ute Weingarten
+49 (0)30 48 49 63 50

Exhibition archive

08.06.2019 - 10.11.2019
24.11.2018 - 14.04.2019
KUNST & KOHLE / Down here – Up there
06.05.2018 - 16.09.2018
25.11.2017 - 08.04.2018
22.04.2017 - 03.09.2017
24.09.2016 - 29.01.2017
10.06.2016 - 10.07.2016
¡DARK! + Dark II (two, too)
26.09.2015 - 03.04.2016
25.01.2015 - 28.06.2015
L ich T

11.05.2014 - 12.10.2014
Words Don't Come Easily...
14.09.2013 - 16.03.2014
LICHT LINIEN | LIGHT LINES (un)wirklich | (un)real
27.10.2012 - 08.04.2013
Licht 21 - Licht-Kunst-Visionen für das 21. Jahrhundert
04.12.2010 - 05.06.2011
James Turrell:
Geometrie des Lichts

01.02.2009 - 31.05.2009
Kazuo Katase:
Am Tor (Das Bilderbuch ohne Bilder)

21.06.2008 - 30.10.2008
Mischa Kuball:

03.06.2007 - 19.08.2007
Andreas Oldörp:
Dawn Blossoms ...

08.10.2004 - 02.04.2005
Claudia Wissmann:
Die Stätte

31.08.2002 - 10.01.2003
Jan van Munster:
Die Energie des Bildhauers

April 2001 - Juli 2001
Yvonne Goulbier:
Luna Park

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