gingham - furniture under wraps

A major exhibition on art in Denmark in the first half of the 19th century - the period described as the Golden Age of Danish art - has just opened at Statens Museum for Kunst / The National Gallery in Copenhagen.

It sets the paintings in the context of the political history of a period bookended by war and looks at the influence of the Royal Academy; at teaching; at the influence of travel as Danish artists went abroad, to Italy in particular, and looks at how the artists lived and worked … with paintings and drawings of artists at work in their studios.

The exhibition is an opportunity to look at paintings as a record of life in the city through that period, with paintings that record interiors and streetscapes that have gone or have been changed dramatically.

This painting by Martinus Rørbye from 1827 shows his teacher, The Painter Christian August Lorentzen and is on loan for the exhibition from the Nivagaard Collection.

Note the old arm chair that appears to have been covered originally in green silk but by the time it has been moved to the studio of the artist it appears to be permanently covered in its gingham slip covers.

In England, through the 18th century and at this period in the first half of the 19th century, wealthy landowners spent time away from their main houses in the country and, often for many months, lived in houses in London or they travelled “for the season” to cities like Bath or Harrogate or even to the seaside at Brighton, and when they were elsewhere, their homes were shut up and expensive furniture was usually protected with slip covers in calico or heavy cotton - often in gingham. There could even be long thin bags in the material that were drawn up around heavy silk curtains and secured at the top with tapes or plain ribbons. Presumably, in Denmark, the wealthy followed the same or similar habits of housekeeping but as silk covers got dirty or frayed - silk splits or breaks apart with strong sunlight - then these temporary covers that had been made to fit the specific chair, would have become more practical as permanent covers.

Note the construction of the chair with low-set and staggered stretchers between the legs … set higher at the front, where you tuck your feet back under as you stand up, and at the back than at the sides so the legs are not made weaker by putting the mortices for the ends of the stretchers too close together. The L-shaped arm rest is a crude precursor of the ‘classic’ mid 20th-century chair by Ole Wanscher.

The fur-lined leather slippers are fantastic.

Danish Golden Art - World-class art between disasters continues at
Statens Mueum for Kunst in Copenhagen
until 8 December 2019

detail of the painting by Matrinus Rørbye of The Painter Christian August Lorentzen

 
 

note:

Gingham is a distinct material with a small pattern of squares that is created in the weave and is generally in strong simple colours so red and white or blue and white or strong, deep yellow and white squares. It is popular throughout Scandinavia and, along with simple stripe patterns, gingham is probably most often used for curtains and covers in rural homes such as summer cottages or farmhouses.

World-class art between disasters

A major exhibition on Danish Art from the Golden Age has just opened at Statens Museum for Kunst - the Danish National Gallery in Copenhagen.

The intriguing title is a reference to major events in Denmark in the 19th-century with the period bookended by the bombardment of the city by the British Navy in September 1807 and the war with Germany that ended in 1864 with the loss of extensive Danish territory in Schleswig Holstein. Both were dramatic and traumatic events that forced the country to reassess it’s position in the World.

For arts in Denmark, this period is considered to be a Golden Age .

Danish Design Review rarely reviews exhibitions of paintings or sculpture but many of these artists recorded in considerable detail topographical scenes, interiors and social life that provide significant evidence for the development of design and architecture through the period.

Danish Golden Age - World-class art between disasters
continues at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen
until 8 December 2019

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citizens fleeing to Amager as Copenhagen is bombarded by the British navy in September 1807

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Højbro Plads in Copenhagen 1844
by Sally Henriques (1815-1866)

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detail of a painting of the square of the Marble Church in 1835
by Frederik Sødring (1809-1862)

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street scene
by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853)

 
 

There I Belong at Statens Museum for Kunst

 

There I Belong is the first in a new series of exhibitions under the title SMK Plus where contemporary artists will explore the collections of the National Gallery.

For this exhibiion - Inspired by the works of the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi who lived and worked in Copenhagen around 1900 - the artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have collaborated with Marianne Torp and Tone Bonnén, the museum's curators of contemporary art.

Spartan interiors by Hammershøi are restrained and calm but they are enigmatic - paintings that tread a fine line between being self contained or depictions of a life of painful isolation. The paintings resonate with a contemporary audience, reflecting aspects of modern taste and restrained Scandinavian interiors.

There may be windows in these rooms but the view out to a world beyond is usually obscured by thin, translucent curtains … the natural light entering the room is crucial but a sense of place not so because these are studies in light but never put people, objects or place under a harsh spot light. Figures in the paintings are detached, generally absorbed in what they are doing, inward looking, often with their back to the viewer and in many of the paintings we do not even know if they are reading or writing or simply sitting with head bowed in quiet contemplation. Open doors indicate that there are rooms beyond but barely hint at a lived life.

Interior with the Artist's Easel, takes this to an extreme because, when painting the picture, the artist himself should be at the easel. The only conclusion has to be that there is a second easel at the point where the viewer is standing so are we the artist? Perhaps we have been co-opted into this quiet and private world but this is the ultimate antidote to that modern scourge - the selfie - where the photographer shows themselves at the centre of the scene, always the subject of the view, inevitably relegating an event or scene beyond to a secondary role.

The second gallery - a large space - shows the work Powerless Structures (8 doors) by Elmgreen & Dragset from 2000-2002. These are the most simple, basic, standard white doors imaginable, with plain white door frames but each is a variation in a theme of a detachment from the real or the functional … one door has handles and hinges on both the left and the right side so it would be impossible to open - another has a handle that is not on the door but on the wall alongside so it might or might not open - one door is slightly open to reveal a locked door immediately behind - one door is folded and wrapped around the corner of the gallery - a pair of doors on adjoining walls at another corner are separate but linked by a security chain as if someone might be able to squeeze through from a room on one side to another room without being able to get into the gallery.

This work, or a version of this work, was shown at Statens Museum for Kunst in 2015 in Biography - an ambitious set of major installations by Elmgreen & Dragset. Then, the doors were part of a corridor and a series of rooms that were in what appeared to be a government or public office building. If not obviously dystopian then the corridor was completely anonymous and designed to smother any sense of self. On entering you had a choice to go one way or the other but with no signs or notices to say where you were or why you were there although you could get a ticket from a machine to wait for your number to be called but it never would be, of course, and if you proceeded past these doors you could only return to where you started.

By now placing these doors on the four walls of a large gallery, the work takes yet another step back and pays homage to Hammershøi but expands his space until it is monumental in scale.

The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, sculptures and video by other artists - all taking the theme of doorways and spartan anonymity - with works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Lilianna Maresca, Francesca Woodman, Robert Gober, Annika von Hausswolff, Ugo Rondinone and Thomas Ruff. Only the work by von Hausswolff is from the museum collection with the other works either courtesy of the artist or on loan from galleries and private owners.

 

the exhibition at Statens Museum for Kunst / The National Gallery in Copenhagen
continues until 1 September 2019

Interior with a young woman sweeping, 1899

Interior, No 30 Strandgade, 1906-1908

Interior with the Artist’s Easel, 1910

Copenhagen Contemporary - summer exhibitions 2

Lengua Llorona

Donna Huanca

22 March to 1 September 2019

Donna Huanca grew up in Chicago. Her parents are Bolivian and she studied in Houston, in Maine at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Städelschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt and she now lives and works in Berlin. This is her first solo exhibition in Scandinavia.

The title, Lengua Llorona, means ‘crying tongue’.

There are sixteen oil paintings on a monumental scale, set away from the gallery walls and at angles to create secondary spaces as you move around the works, and smaller painted-steel sculptures - cut out in complex silhouettes - are set in front of or alongside the larger works. Colour bleeds on to the walls in places and areas of white sand across the floor are shaped and moulded with delicate ephemeral patterns, so this site-specific show occupies the space in an intriguing and very complex way.

Through the gallery there is the scent of Palo Santo - from a holy South American tree and used for cleansing rituals.

There will be a seres of eight performances in the exhibition space during the exhibition period with models decorated with paint and textiles as living paintings.

 
 

The exhibition has been curated by Aukje Lepoutre Ravn and performance dates are listed on the gallery site.

Copenhagen Contemporary

 
 

Seizure -
The Needle and the Larynx
Faint with Light

Marianna Simnett

Copenhagen Contemporary 8 February to 26 May 2019

This is the first solo exhibition in Scandinavia by the London based artist and is performance art without the artist present as Marianna Simnett is central to both works.

I found the Needle and the Larynx disturbing but that is a confession and not a criticism because a key role of the artist is to challenge our perceptions and easy complacency. The uneasiness was not because I am queasy about needles - I am not - but this is presented as the grimmest of a Grimme’s style fairy story told as a voice over about a young girl who threatens and punishes a surgeon because she wants him to make her voice deeper. The film is of Simnett herself having Botox injected into her larynx to stiffen the vocal chord so that the vocal range is restricted and the voice drops. It is actually that disjunction between the tale, performed like a black bed-time story, and the clinical calm of the injection process that seems shocking.

Faint with light is in a separate gallery - a darkened space where a bank of long light tubes set horizontally respond to the breathing pattern of the artist as she hyperventilates until she faints when the breathing becomes slow and calm and the light patterns subside. The effect is hypnotic and very powerful … the effect of hyperventilating is obvious both in the sound track and in the visual light patterns but here there is absolutely no story or narrative so no reasons are given … this is a highly dramatic act of sound combined with the most simple and abstract use of space and light that again sets up a challenging disjunction. Here it is perhaps not the act itself - of collapse and recovery - that is shocking but that this is on a never-ending loop. There is no respite.

Seizure at Copenhagen Contemporary

Margrethe Kaas at Design Werck

 

An exhibition has just opened at Design Werck in Copenhagen of paintings and sculptures by the Danish architect and artist Margrethe Kaas. The gallery space at Design Werck has beautiful light in space where furniture and decorative arts are also shown.

Margrethe Kaas was given her first set of paints at the age of four and painting has, for her, been a major vehicle for exploring colour. The large-scale colour studies show an architectural sense of planes and space and there are also topographic studies including here painting from visits to New York and London and a painting to reflect the colours and energy of Berlin.

the exhibition continues at Design Werck through to 31 March 2019

Margrethe Kaas
Design Werck

well-known Copenhagen landmark could be under threat.

The image of a girl on a bicycle on the gable of a building in Nørrebro was painted in 1993 by the Finnish artist Seppo Mattinen who was born in 1930.

Apparently the building is now owned by a relatively new housing association and they do not have the funds to restore or maintain the painting. Unfortunately, it has been vandalised several times so keeping the painting does mean quite a substantial and ongoing financial commitment. In a prominent location just before the lakes as you head into the city, it would certainly be missed by many if it cannot be kept.

update:

latest news is a proposal to take down the painting and move it to a new site

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new metro hoardings

 

Around the city, the final stages of work on the new metro line means that the high hoardings around the engineering works for new stations have come down and work on new paving and hard landscaping has started but the extension of the metro out to the south harbour is not due to open until 2024. 

New hoardings have gone up around the site of the new station at Enghave Brygge and the paintings, in 12 sections on the theme of Evolution, are pretty amazing extending for nearly 500 metres … said to be the longest continuous graffiti in Europe.

The artists are Ulrik Schiødt, Peter Skensved, Michael Wisniewski og Caligr Oner står bag rekordmaleriet med deltagelse fra graffitikunstnerne Balstrøm, Welin, Sabe, Crema, Tonek, Toms, Name, Debs, Code, More, Then, Dae og Even.

 

farve form stof / colour form texture

detail of 1025 Farben by Gerhard Richter 1974
Parrhesia, sculpture in papier mâché by Franz West 2012
and, in the background Para 1 by Morris Louis 1959

 

Works in this exhibition are drawn from the collection and they mark major themes in art since the Second World War looking at the use of vibrant colour that has an immediate impact and at the exploration of texture and of forms for sculpture that step well beyond realism or, rather, look beyond the realistic depiction of colours and shapes and forms from the natural world.

The exhibition in the lower galleries looks at two other major themes from art from the middle of the 20th century onwards … men and masculinity and war and conflict.


the exhibition farve form stof continues until 21 October 2018
at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gammel Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk