Core Course Week & Field Study: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

For the second half of my second field study during core course week my class visited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. I have been looking forward to this trip since I have arrived. Everyone I spoke to before coming to Denmark told me I had to go see Louisiana. It felt like some sort of designer pilgrimage that I need to take.

 

Post Overview:

  • History and general background of Louisiana
    • Location
    • Architecture
    • Why is it named Louisiana?
  • Exhibition highlights
    • Infinity Room
    • 300 Secrets
    • Dave
  • Picasso Ceramic exhibit.

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Louisiana Museum of Modern Art:

Opening in 1958, Louisiana was founded by Knud W. Jensen. He intended the museum to showcase modern Danish art. But over the years, Louisiana has become an international museum with internationally renowned works. It is listed in Patricia Schultz book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and is ranked 85th on a list of the most visited art museums in the world.

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My favorite artist: Mark Rothko, Untitled 1964

Louisiana is one of the worlds most respected exhibition venues. This is achvieved due to Knud W. Jensen’s “sauna princple” of dividing the exhibitions into hot and cold varieties. “The hot consisted of artists that the guests already knew – the great modern classics – while the cold gave room for names the guests had never heard of – the less easily accessible, often contemporary artists”.

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This is less than 6 inches tall

The trick is to combine the two so that the popular exhibitions attract guests who on the same occasion also get to see something other than what they would have come for themselves. The sauna principle, in all its simplicity, is about meeting guests at eye level according to the view that, for an appeal to resonate, it must get hold of people where they already are”.

Location:

The Louisiana is the most visited art museum in Denmark. It is located on the shore of the Øresund Sound in Humlebæk, about 20 miles north of Copenhagen. On a clear day, visitors can catch a glimpse of Sweden on the horizon.

Sweden on the horizon

Architecture:

It is precisely the unpretentious aspect of Louisiana’s architecture that strikes the  eye on the first visit”. The Louisiana Museum is regarded as a mile stone in modern Danish Architecture. It’s synthesis of art, architecture, and landscape makes it stand out. “In the well-balanced style of the late 1950sdiscreet modernism, the museum presents itself as a horizontal and understated building complex that fits gracefully and intimately into the landscape.”

Since it opened in 1958, the museum has had seven extension and alterations. All of which have been carried out by the architects Bo and Wohlert. This is done on purpose as it allow the building to flow more seamlessly. Additions to the museum are done gradually in order to allow Louisiana to perfectly grow into the terrain, trees, and lawn. This allows the museum to appear as an integrated whole for which it is famous for.

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Why is it named Louisiana?: The answer is simple. The original owner of the building, Alexander Brun, named the villa after his three wives. Each wife was name Louise. He felt that it was only fitting that his house was also name Louise. When Knud W. Jensen bought the house that would eventually become the museum he kept the name.

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Infinity Room:

Designed by Yayoi Kusama, the Infinity Room is one of very few permanent exhibitions at Louisiana. It is also one of the smallest. The permanent exhibit is a small room in which the walls and ceiling are covered in mirrors. The floor is covered in water with a small peninsula for visitors to stand on. Soft, glowing lights hang from the ceiling, they gradually transition through the spectrum of color.

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Infinity Room

The original exhibit, Into Infinity, showcased Yayoi Kusma’s life work, which spanned more than six decades. The exhibition became the third most visited exhibition in Louisiana’s history with over 340,720 guests.

300 Secrets:

This might have been my favorite piece in the museum. The idea is simple. The artist wrote out 300 secrets on a piece of paper. Some of them are funny, “125. The third girl I ever kissed had a dad who came after me drunk with a shotgun. This made me very proud”. Most are random, “”15. I don’t like my dog”. The weird part about this list is that you just had to keep reading. You couldn’t pull yourself away from it no matter how disturbing it got, “121. My friend threw a cat against a wall”.

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Dave.

Dave is the definition of modern art. Dave is simple. Dave is weird. I don’t understand him, but I can’t stop thinking about him.

 

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Image taken from Manilla Bullitan

 

This exhibition feels like an episode of Black Mirror. Projected into three screens you simultaneously see three different, somewhat related videos of Dave playing. You spend the first minute trying to decide if Dave is real or not. Voiced by the artist, Dave is an extremely well done animation. You watch this plotless story in the dark. Dave draws you in, singing and talking to you. Making you suspend your belief of what is real and what is not. After stringing you along, making you connect, Dave suddenly deflated like a balloon. Immediately dissipating any connection or realness you have made.

Dave will be in my nightmares.

Picasso’s Ceramics

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The main exhibition at Louisiana is a showcase of Picasso’s Ceramic works. Yes you read that right. Picasso made ceramics. I didn’t know this before visiting the museum either.According to the Louisiana museum’s website this is “the first major exhibition in Scandinavia to focus on a late, fortunate and highly imaginative part of Picasso’s work”. The exhibition is at Louisiana from February 1st to May 27th. It marks the beginning of the 60th Anniversary year for the museum. The New York Times is says this is one of the top exhibitions to see for 2018. And I got to see it.

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Picasso began experimenting with ceramics after visiting Golfe-Juan in the south of France in the summer of 1946. He attends a ceramics exhibition in Vallauris, which in in an area that is well known for its many ceramic workshops.

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According to the exhibition, “This experience is a turning-point for Picasso, who throughout his life sought new artistic challenges in all possible kinds of materials. Picasso immediately starts experimenting with ceramic materials, oxides and glazes, and the ceramic processes and techniques – especially the unpredictable elements in the actual firing process, mainly because the colors are so difficult to control – clearly presents him with a rich and interesting new challenge”.

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Picasso’s aim with his ceramics was to make art accessible to anyone. He would take classic, ceramic forms and create something entirely different out of them. By simply painting with glaze he would turn ordinary pitchers and vases into people and animals.

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Part of the exhibit showed off his ability to take the same classic ceramic form and do something completely different with it. Above are two vases in a room of maybe eight similar ones. Each vase is takes the classic form in a new direction. One turning into a woman in a bikini, complete with a belly button. Another turning into a sketch book of sorts. While appreciating the “sketches” on this vase my classmates and I wondered: did he draw on the white clay then attach it to the vase or attach to the vase than draw on the white clay?

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Starting in 1948 Picasso works with the Madoura workshop and move permanently to the South of France. Here he produces about 4,000 ceramic objects alongside his paintings, drawings, sculptures, and graphic works. He uses a variety of techniques to produce his work. “Some involve the painting and reworking of plates, jugs and dishes that have already gone into production at the Madoura pottery, others are more sculptural figures – animals, fauns and female figures that grow out of Picasso’s imagination as the wet clay takes form.

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Picasso used discarded, broken pieces to create these women’s faces

Walking away from this exhibit I had a greater appreciation for Picasso and his work. The exhibit does a great job of showing Picasso’s progression and experimentation. Written descriptions and sketch accompany the 160 pieces of art. Giving a visitor an in depth look at Picasso’s work. I also came to a simple realization: Picasso can make anything into a Woman

All quotes and facts are taken from the Louisiana Museum website.

 

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