Elon Musk, left, the SpaceX chief executive, would not disclose how much Yusaku Maezawa paid to orbit the moon. (Chris Carlson/Associated Press).
Man has long been obsessed with the moon, a sentiment on full display at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
There, an exhibition, “The Moon: From Inner Worlds to Outer Space,” reveals that “humans have wanted the moon for most of our history — wanted to understand it, capture it, land on it, own it,” The Times’s Andrew Dickson wrote.
On exhibit is a 1793 engraving by the English artist William Blake depicting a tiny figure climbing a ladder to the moon. The caption reads, “I want! I want!”
The show traces our love affair with the moon through 16th-century paintings of moonlit landscapes, Beethoven’s 1801 “Moonlight Sonata,” a colorized still from the 1902 Georges Méliès film “A Trip to the Moon,” a glove worn during the Apollo 17 mission and a recent NASA image of the moon’s surface.
“We wanted to make a dialogue between art and science,” Marie Laurberg, the exhibition’s curator, told The Times. “We traveled there imaginatively long before we were physically able to.”
In an upstairs gallery, a chunk of lunar meteorite is on view. “An alien and unsettling object, literally otherworldly, it captured something that many human representations fail to,” Mr. Dickson wrote. “Even in an art gallery, the real moon somehow stole the show.”
As technology advances and private capital moves in, Blake’s “I want! I want!” dream might soon become a reality. The Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa paid SpaceX an undisclosed, but undoubtedly large, price to be the first tourist to orbit the moon. But he has elected not to go alone. Instead, “I choose to go to the moon, with artists,” said Mr. Maezawa, the founder of the online clothing company Zozo, at a SpaceX news conference last month.
Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, would not discuss how much money Mr. Maezawa paid, describing it only as a “very significant deposit” that has “done a lot to restore my faith in humanity.”
Mr. Maezawa’s project, called “Dear Moon,” is described as an “awe-inspiring, global, universal art project,” with a painter, a musician, a film director, a fashion designer and possibly others who would accompany Mr. Maezawa on a five-day journey.
But he will have to wait a while. The trip is still a small project at SpaceX, and Mr. Musk estimates that it will cost about $5 billion. The earliest prospective launch date for Mr. Maezawa and his space collective is 2023.
It’s not clear what the artists would do up there. When The Times surveyed artists for ideas, most were more interested in metaphysics than starting a moon colony.
Ai Weiwei, for instance, told The Times that a trip to the moon would offer a new way of looking at things.
“A change in perspective is the source for any kind of art. Without shifting perspectives, we will never have a complete view of anything — the political, personal or social,” he said. “So what I can put on the moon is an observation: My insignificance in relation to the universe, and to use that as a point of view for planet earth.”
But the desire to stake a claim lingers. If the sculptor and painter Eric Fischl were able to land and walk on the moon’s surface, he said he would “unzip my spacesuit and pee into gravity-less space, in a futile effort to mark my territory.”