| 17.feb.2009

NEW SPECIAL EXHIBITION. Wilhelm Freddie. Stick the fork in your eye!

Scandal-ridden provocateur, notorious self-promoter and visionary artist, Wilhelm Freddie is a unique figure in Danish art. He was an artist who was in stubborn opposition to the etiquette of the age and was inspired by the new trends of the international art scene. He became one of the major surrealists in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. The major exhibition at Statens Museum for Kunst celebrates the centenary of his birth. The exhibition includes more than 150 works including reproductions of many now lost works, presenting all aspects of his oeuvre and giving a picture of an artist whose original concern with man’s existence still seems fresh and flippant.

Wilhelm Freddie
Stick the fork in your eye!
Statens Museum for Kunst  28 February – 1 June 2009

Controversial and revolutionary
Wilhelm Freddie (1909-95) stands out among all other artists as the enfant terrible of Danish art. His project from start to finish was experimentation, which included a permanent self-willed confrontation with the narrow-mindedness and double morality of his time, resulting in scandals, confiscations of his works, censorship and two prison sentences on top of it all. Not that experimentation and provocation were ever an end in themselves. Behind all his original and highly skilled exploration of artistic possibilities as well as his constant focus on the theme of erotic desire and human sexuality lay Freddie’s ambition to address his viewer directly. Just like the works of his surrealist colleagues, Freddie’s art was founded on an idealistic quest to create art which could liberate the innermost nature of man and whose undermining power could awake the viewer from his deep slumber and revolutionise the social realities.

A unique talent
Wilhelm Freddie is indubitably the most outstanding Scandinavian surrealist artist. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he quickly turned towards the new trends of the international art scene. He worked very closely with the surrealist movement from around 1930, with artists like André Breton and Salvador Dalí, and soon became a leading figure at exhibitions in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. The whole range of Freddie’s surrealism is on show at Statens Museum for Kunst, which although owing its inspiration to outside influences was unmistakably his own.

Forgotten aspects are revealed
Art historians have had a tendency to treat Wilhelm Freddie – as indeed the rest of surrealism – from a very traditional point of view and with a special focus on the painterly production from his earliest works to the later ones. Statens Museum for Kunst has naturally enough also collected a wide-ranging selection of Freddie’s paintings, collages, and sculptures from the whole of his production, including both decidedly major works and rarely seen works from private collections. The Museum’s new departure is to turn its attention to the lesser known aspects of Freddie’s art, like his films, happenings, dress design and window displays. There are also a number of reproductions of lost works, and in the first part of the exhibition period the Museum will stage Freddie’s ballet The Triumph of Love for the first time since 1940. In this way the exhibition provides a complete picture of an artist who was in constant opposition. He was an artist who in many respects was before his time in the way he challenged the various art forms and set them up against each other and mixed their specific characteristics.

Surrealist set design
The exhibition sets itself apart from traditional retrospective views in that it consciously avoids a typical chronological hang. The many works are instead presented in thematic groups composed of works from various periods, illustrating major trends in Freddie’s work. The staging of the exhibition has been arranged by exhibition architect Elisabeth Topsøe, whose inspiration stems from the surrealists’ own exhibitions from the 1930s to the 1950s. At this time they experimented with organic forms and spatial convolutions, so-called vaginal architecture as well as other alternative and sensually seductive ways of staging their works. The colour scheme of the exhibition takes its inception in a similar way from the surrealists’ interest in the physical and corporeal.

Besides a substantial guide, there is an interactive information platform in both exhibition rooms, where the public can explore at their leisure a wealth of material, including that of Wilhelm Freddie’s archive.

Wilhelm Freddie online
Statens Museum for Kunst is opening a large portal on its internet site together with the exhibition. Here you can go on an interactive exploration of Wilhelm Freddie’s universe and study Freddie’s works in depth before and after the visit. You can also see films on and by Freddie, hear old radio interviews, download pod-walks, and experience Freddie’s works in conjunction with works by other great artists.
See more at from 28 February.

New book
Statens Museum for Kunst is publishing a large volume on the occasion of the exhibition, giving an overall view and insight into Wilhelm Freddie’s richly varied world.
Wilhelm Freddie. Stick the Fork in Your Eye!
280 pages, fully illustrated
Main article by Dorthe Aagesen. Other articles by Mikkel Bolt, Mary Ann Caws, Anne Middelboe Christensen, Karen Westphal Eriksen, Rune Gade, Nikolaj Lübecker, Karsten Ohrt, Michael Richardson and Mette Houlberg Rung.
The book also contains a comprehensive archive with biography, lectures, as well as a number of film and ballet scripts.
Price: 298 DKK
ISBN 978-87-92023-29-2

The exhibition is supported by Consul George Jorck and Emma Jorck’s Foundation, the New Carlsberg Foundation, Montana and Valhal Corp.

The exhibition will be shown at KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art Aalborg fom 19 June 2009.

24 FEBRUARY at 11 A.M.

For further information contact:
Press Officer
Jakob Fibiger Andreasen
T +45 3374 8474
M +45 2961 6949

Senior Research Curator
Dorthe Aagesen
T +45 3374 8533

Statens Museum for Kunst
Sølvgade 48-50
DK-1307 Copenhagen K

Updated: 19.apr.2018
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