Saturday, October 28, 2017

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art[1]
Resource Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot has a number of resource reviews of Art institutions that the author has visited over a number of years. For example my visit to The Louvre prompted a post in order that I could brag to you, dear reader, that it was a thrilling experience that you should not miss - if you are fortunate enough to be in that part of the world. I will never forget an innocent Marie-Therese sadly handing in her camera to the cloak room attendant, only to be asked by him in English - 'Are you not interested in taking photographs of some of the exhibits?' I snatched my camera back so quickly from his hands he only forgave me because of my sheepish and embarrassed grin. Of course he did not comprehend that I was Australian (after all the Australians he had met were uncultured and only interested in the Munich beer festival!) He muttered under his breath in French - "Les Anglais sont tellement incultes!" To which I replied in French - "Nous étions avant que les Normands ne nous envahissaient!" He laughed and nodded his head in agreement. I have never made that mistake again, but unfortunately very few museums and art galleries are as generous as the Louvre when I visited it.

I visited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art outside of Copenhagen last month. The state of Louisiana in America was named after Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 to 1715. The suffix -ana (or -ane) is a Latin suffix that can refer to "...information relating to a particular individual, subject, or place." Thus roughly, Louis + ana carries the idea of "related to Louis." However the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art has an entirely different origin for obtaining its name. The original villa (which is now the museum) was owned by a man who had married three women - all with the same christian name - Louise! Go figure!

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

The building is very impressive being remodelled by Danish architects Vilhelm Wohlert and Jørgen Bo, who were inspired by the German Bauhaus and California Bay Area architecture with its last owner - Knud W. Jensen - being considered as the third force in its architectural design.

The garden surrounds - the Sculpture Park - is as impressive as the building itself. Is it a museum with a garden or a garden that pockets a museum? This dichotomy will always add to the lure of the place. However, the boundary between inside or outside fades into insignificance as the act of engagement melts the environment to the core focus of the art that confronts you.

Looking from the coffee shop across the bay.

Sculptures accessible to all.

Unless otherwise stated all information and photographs was obtained from reference [1].

The Collection[1]
The Louisiana was founded by Knud W. Jensen (1916-2000) who was a businessman in publishing. He had a great love for art and culture. For Knud, it was essential that the general public could access art and culture. He opened the Museum in 1958, although it took him and his architects some forty years to complete their vision. He was insistent that the Louisiana was a people's museum and so was not a museum designed for the art consignetti.

The Louisiana's collection has two origins, of which only one is visible today. The Museum's founder was originally a collector of Danish modernism, but was roused from his dogmatic slumber when he visited the 1959 dcumenta in Kassel and encountered international modern art.

Artist: Asger Jorn; Title: Dead Drunk Danes (1960).
Material and Technique: Oil on canvas.
Size: 130 x 200.5 cm.
Donation: The Louisiana Foundation.
Danish Modernism (reminiscent of American Abstract Expressionism).

Within a few years the vision for the Louisiana had changed, and so, not long after its birth, the Museum was reborn as the Museum of Modern Art. With the help of Danish Foundations and other donors, it slowly became possible to build a collection of modern art, especially postwar art, with not an insignificant emphasis on American Art, a rare feat in Denmark to this day.

Artist: Andy Warhol; Title: Close Cover Before Striking (1962).
Material and Technique: Acrylic on canvas.
Size: 183 x 137.5 cm.

Artist: Roy Lichtenstein; Title: Figures in a Landscape (1977).
Material and Technique: Oil and Magna on canvas.
Size: 272.5 x 423 cm.
Long-term loan: Museumsfonden - 7th December 1966.

The Museum also holds a collection of more contemporary artists such as Jonathan Meese, Elliott Hundley, Yayoi Kusamam and David Hockney - to name a few!

Artist: David Hockney; Title: A Closer Grand Canyon (1988).
Material and Technique: Oil on canvas.
Size: 205 x 744 cm.
Acquired with funding from the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation.

As much as I love engaging with all the modern art masters in the Louisiana - Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, and Robert Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Moholy-Nagy, Sophie Taeber-Arp etc - their presence in Denmark is an on-going resource for the Danes, since it brought significant modern artworks into focus for the Danes and for Europeans visiting Denmark, but if you have been fortunate enough to visit significant art galleries in North America and in Japan, a lot of these modern masters are already buried in your sub-consciousness because of the past artistic acts of engagements.

What was truly mind boggling for me about the Louisiana were the sculptures inside and outside of the gallery. Their presence was breathtaking in quality and moreover, breathtaking in tackling all of your senses of scale, of confrontation and of placement. If I can only give you an inkling of what I experienced in this post I would have done well! Trust me, you need to be there to engage with the sculptured artworks - no amount of words or images will reflect your total experience!

What on Earth could that little fellow be looking at?

At this - of course!
Artist: Luise Bourgeois; Title: Spider Couple (2003).
Material and Technique: Silver patinated bronze.
Size: 229 x 361 x 366 cm.
Acquired with the support from Elner Torben-Hansen.

Artist: Ai Weiwei; First work: Tree (2009 - 2010); Rock(2009 - 2011).
Material and Technique (Tree): Wood and steel.
Size: Various sizes.
Acquired with the support from the New Carlsberg Foundation.
Second work in the foreground: Rock (2009 - 2011).
Material and Technique: Under-glazed porcelain, 7 works with individual dimensions.
Acquired with the support from the New Carlsberg Foundation (6 works) and donation Ai Weiwei & neugerriemschneider (one work).

Artist: Juan Munoz; Title: Half Circle (1997).
Materials and Techniques: Painted polyester resin and fiber glass.
Size: 12 parts with individual dimensions.

Artist: César; Title: Large Thumb (1968).
Material and Technique: Bronze sculpture.
Size: 183.5 x 103 x 83 cm.
Donation: The Louisiana Foundation.

The Giacometti Gallery is one of the major highlights of the Museum. Alberto Giacometti (1901 - 1966) is a key artist at the Louisiana, which has an extensive collection of his sculptures.

Title: Walking Man (1960).
Technique and Materials: Bronze sculpture.
Dimension: 190 x 112.5 x 28 cm.
Donation: The New Carlsberg Foundation.

Close-up of the face of the "Walking Man".

"Standing Woman IV" facing the "Walking Man" (1960).

Venice Woman II, III, V, VII and VIII (1956).

Title: Spoon Woman (1926/1927).
Material: Bronze.
Size: 145 x 51 x 20 cm.

I could go on and on about the inside sculptures, but alas, it is time to venture into the gardens.

A Jean Arp sculpture (1959) lazily sitting near the glass corridor of the North wing.

Artist: Henry Moore; Title: Reclining Figure No. 5 (1963-64).
Technique and Material: Bronze Sculpture.
Size: 250 x 386 x 182 cm.

Artist: Max Ernst (three works).
From Left to Right: The Large Tortoise (1967/76), Bronze, 99 x 80 x 117 cm; The Large Genius (The Large Assistant,1967/76), Bronze, 158 x 221 x 78 cm; The Large Assistant (The Large Frog, 1967/76).
All works donated by Max Ernst.

View of the Calder-terrace, seen here are Alexander Calder's works "Almost Snow Plow 1964/76" (left) and the mobile "Little Janey-Waney" 1964-76 (right).

Artist: Nobuo Sekine; Title: Phases of Nothingness (1970).
Materials and Techniques: Stainless steel and marble.
Size: 625 x 216 x 435 cm.
Donation: The Japan Foundation.

Artist: Jean Dubuffet, Dynamic Manor (1969/82).
Materials and Techniques: Ferrocement.
Size: 400 x 540 x 520 cm.
Long term loan: Museumsfonden af 7, December (1966).

[1] P. E. Tøjner, A Guide to the Museum, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (2015).

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