the Adam Stool

Sculpture is not just an important and useful record of historic styles of furniture and fashion ……

This is a bronze group in the collection of Statens Museum for Kunst - the National Gallery in Copenhagen.

By Gillian Wearing it has the title A real Danish family. Produced in 2017, that is the Adam Stool from the Copenhagen design studio FRAMA.

The shoes are fantastic but surely fashion historians a hundred years from now are going to wonder why collars on shirts were buttoned down and, even if they will work out that it was a feature designed initially to hold a neck tie neatly in place, they would wonder why he is not wearing a tie and as for men rolling up the cuffs and leaving their shirts hanging out … what was that all about?

Statens Museum for Kunst
FRAMA

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

Sonja Ferlov Mancoba at Statens Museum for Kunst

 

A major new exhibition of work by the sculptor Sonja Ferlov Mancoba has just opened at Statens Museum for Kunst and continues through to 5 May 2019

Statens Museum for Kunst / The National Gallery of Denmark, Sølvgade, Copenhagen

Patterns Shimmer Scenes - photographs by Joachim Koester at Statens Museum for Kunst

 

I was at the opening for the exhibition of work by Joachim Koester but decided, on balance, that the subjects shown in his series of images are not close enough to the city or to architecture and design in Denmark to be relevant for a review here but going back recently, to spend more time in the exhibition on a quieter day, I realise I was wrong.

It is not the subject of the photographs, although those are interesting, but it is about ways of seeing - about having a viewpoint - and it's about the selection of that view point, the artist editing the scene, to create or, at least, to hint at or imply a narrative, that is an important lesson.

Koester was born in Copenhagen in 1962 and studied at the Schools of Visual Arts at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and he works now with photography, sound and video.

The images shown in Patterns Shimmer Scenes are presented in clear groups and come from very specific projects including with others:

  • Some Boarded Up Houses that is a series of photographs taken in the United States after the financial crash of 2007-2009

  • The American artist Ed Ruscha documented a number of empty plots in 1970 and collected them in a book Real Estate Opportunities. Koester recorded some of the same plots in his work Occupied Plots, Abandoned Futures Twelve (Former) Real Estate Opportunities 2007.

  • photographs taken in Kaliningrad follow the route of a daily walk taken by the philosopher Immanuel Kant when he lived in the city that was then called Königsberg

  • a series of photographs of amazing buildings in Calcutta traces marked changes from an Imperial past - where affluence was based in part on money from the British East India Company trading opium that was grown in Afghanistan and shipped on by the Company to China. *

These are “enigmatic images of abandoned places with stories that reveal incredible pasts” and generally record desolation and waste. Apart from the photographs from Calcutta, there are rarely people in the images. Particularly in the American photographs, Koester takes his photographs straight on to the façade, and with parallax removed, and sharp detail across the image, he removes or flattens the sense of perspective or distance so the buildings become specimens to be examined closely and, with boarded up windows and empty yards, the photographs expose decline and abandonment that has taken place over years or over decades.

Some of the photographs are selenium toned silver gelatine prints that have deep rich tones of warm greys and that also creates a curious sense of detachment in a world where now it seems anyone and everyone takes so many colour photos.

Many of the buildings are boarded up - most look unoccupied - so, above all, the photographs record waste … how humans construct buildings that are extravagant, are expressions of wealth or of optimism or both but they are abandoned and history or events leave them stranded.

 

 

note:

* a recent article in The Guardian included the astounding statistic that the British shipping company P&O transported 632,000 tons of opium from Bengal to China.

 

the exhibition continues at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen until 3 February 2019 

 

OUT at Statens Museum for Kunst

 

An exhibition of work by the German artist Judith Hopf who is based in Berlin.

In part this work is about how we perceive space - how an artist can organise and manipulate space - and how we respond to space.

And it is also about materials and scale.

The main work, that you see as you enter the gallery, is a diagonal line of three Pears in brick and on a monumental scale - the largest is just under a metre high. That line is reinforced by a low brick wall cutting across the gallery at an angle. 

Untitled (Laptop Men) in polished sheet metal are identifiable as figures holding a laptop and leaning back against the gallery wall but are also like a pictogram but on a life-sized scale.

Suspended around a large video display are curtains hung from the ceiling but stopping short of the floor so you have to duck under the curtain to enter the space to see the video but your legs, from the knee down, seem to become part of the work.

OUT - the video that gives the exhibition its name - shows a high narrow block in front of the open courtyard of an apartment building with distinct features including sun shades over the balconies but, as you watch, the tall block is raised up revealing legs, again from the knees down, showing it is in fact a costume worn by a person and it is our preconceptions and clever perspective and manipulation of perspective that deceives us into seeing it as a building.

As the scene develops there is a short length of hedge on wheels and a young boy playing a full set of drums in what looks like the courtyard of an apartment building.

 

 

the exhibition continues until 30 December 2018
in X-rummet / the X room at Statens Museum for Kunst

KAFETERIA - Statens Museum for Kunst

 

The restaurant at Statens Museum for Kunst has been moved up a floor and to the front of the building and renamed so Kafeteria is now immediately to your right as you come through the entrance doors.

Food is by the chef Frederik Bille Brahe (also behind Atelier September, Apollo Bar and Kantine in Copenhagen) and the furniture is eclectic but works remarkably well and, at the very least, it is very different with the hefty main chairs and tables designed by Enzo Mari from 1974 but combined with classic Danish chairs by Poul Volther and stools and coat stands by Nanna Ditzel.

The scheme was designed with the artist Danh Vo and includes statues from the Royal Cast Collection and large Arkari lamps by Noguchi.

Kafeteria
Statens Museum for Kunst
Sølvgade
1307 København K

 

Take My Breath Away - an exhibition by Danh Vo

LOG DOG, 2013

 

Generally, art and sculpture are not reviewed here - on a site that focuses on architecture and design - but this extensive exhibition, showing work by the artist Danh Vo from the last fifteen years, includes pieces that he has chosen from the collection of the gallery and these are presented in a way that challenges our perceptions and preconceptions and uses the architectural space extending across the lobby and the Sculpture Street of the gallery as well as the two main exhibition spaces.

Works include sculpture, furniture, Chinese pavilions in timber and artefacts including letters and photographs. It is the juxtaposition of these elements - so a television and refrigerator and a crucifix together - that tests the boundaries we impose between art works, found objects, discarded or broken art and more mundane household objects that never-the-less have strong and important personal associations.

Danh Vo was born in Vietnam in 1975 and came to Denmark with his family when he was four years old. His work explores themes of migration, colonialism and religion. In the exhibition is a chandelier that hung above the table in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the treaty ending the Vietnam War was signed. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen and at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. 

the exhibition continues at Statens Museum for Kunst until 2 December 2018

 
 

Chinese pavilions - the pavilion in the middle lobby area with the bronze sculpture It’s Just Not a Waiting Room by Danh Vo from 2013 and the pavilion in the north exhibition hall with commercial shelving used to display some of the works

 
 
 

Sculpture Street with statues from the Royal Cast Collection shown in groups and set on wooden pallets

 
 

GUSTAV’S WING, 2013
Bronze from Pinault Collection

MA TI LONG, 2016
Bamboo bird cage on Roman Corinthian column

UNTITLED, 2018
Roman torso of Venus in marble

 

03.01.1752, 2015
German porcelain recovered from the wreck of the trading ship Geldermalsen that sunk in the South China Sea
Set on a sandstone eagle

08.03, 28.05, 2009
Chandelier from the Hotel Majestic in Paris from above a table where the Paris Peace Accord was signed

 

Bagsider / Flip Sides

 

For the Golden Days Festival this year the theme was The B-sides of History so, for this exhibition, the curators at Statens Museum for Kunst took that literally and present the backs of paintings and drawings in their collection.

And it is fascinating.

read more

the exhibition continues at Statens Museum for Kunst until 10 March 2019

 

Japomania in the north 1875-1918

A new exhibition on the influence of Japanese painting and ceramics in Scandinavia in the late 19th century and early 20th century has opened at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.

This is a pair to the exhibition Learning from Japan - currently at Designmuseum Danmark in the city - and together they explore how the opening up of trade with Japan in the second half of the 19th century inspired artists and designers and architects in Scandinavia. 

Some of these Scandinavian pieces show direct and close observation of works that were published or had been shown in the city … there were several prominent collectors of Japanese ceramics and wood cuts and both woodcuts and ceramics were shown in displays when the design museum, then called the Kunstindustriemuseet, opened… but there had also been important displays of Japanese art at the Nordic Exhibition in Copenhagen in 1888, as well as at the World Fairs in Paris in 1878 and again in 1889.

Several pieces here show a looser interpretation of Japanese style with what for some was more a passing fashion with people portrayed incongruously in Japanese costumes or shown carrying painted umbrellas. Some of the paintings have incredible frames and it would be interesting to see historic photographs that show how these were displayed in Scandinavian homes.

Japomania in the North 1875 - 1918, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

19 January - 23 April 2017

 

The Misses Salomon by Anders Zorn (1888)

vase by Thorvald Bindesbøll inspired by the famous Japanese print of a wave

temporary redisplay of a selection from the modern collection from Statens Museum

At Statens Museum for Kunst there is a temporary redisplay of some of the pieces from the collection of modern Danish art as the main galleries where the works are normally shown are closed for a few months for the fitting of new air conditioning in the galleries for Danish and International Art after 1900.

Focus on Danish and International Art after 1900,

Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

from 16th January until May 2017

 

untitled man with dots sitting on a blue carpet by Peter Land (2003)