Press

Nicolai Abildgaard, The Wounded Philoctetes, 1775. Christen Købke, A View from Dosseringen near the Sortedam Lake Looking Towards Nørrebro, 1838. J.F. Willumsen, A Mountaineer, 1912

Collections | 18.may.2011

Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900

From the birth of Danish painting through the famous Golden Age of Danish art to the dawn of Modernism. All the major trends and movements within 150 years of Danish and Nordic art unfold themselves in a new, comprehensive display of the collections housed at the National Gallery of Denmark. "Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900" shows more than 400 works in 24 freshly renovated exhibition rooms. This tour de force of art involves many different aspects; it includes a historical overview, special themes of immediate relevance to contemporary life, and individual focus on artists of particular importance. It also sheds light on some of the overlooked chapters of Danish art history.

Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900
The National Gallery of Denmark
From 28 May 2011


An important collection
The National Gallery of Denmark’s collection of pre-20th century Danish art is the most important collection of its kind to be found in any museum. The collection performs a crucial function as the pre-eminent source of knowledge of Denmark’s artistic heritage. This is also why it enjoys special attention from the museum’s audience, and indeed it is the most popularly used section of the Gallery for guided tours, lectures, tuition, and other educational activities.

Choices made at every turn
The scope and quality of the Gallery’s collection has allowed the new display unique opportunities for relating grand narratives and rather more obscure stories about Danish art and Danish artists. Taking its point of departure in the most recent research, "Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900" aims to provide an accurate account of what the Gallery regards as the most significant artists and movements within Danish art in the period leading up to the 20th century. The final hanging has been preceded by a rigorous vetting process where experts have had their pick among the more than 3,500 works housed in the collection. Of course, the new display offers plenty of opportunities to revisit unmissable masterworks by the greatest Danish artists of the era. However, a number of obvious candidates have had to give way in favour of artists who have hitherto lead rather obscure lives within Danish art history.

Main narratives, undercurrents, and German interludes
The overall structure of the new display will present audiences with a chronological presentation that takes its beginning in the mid-18th century and traces the main outline of the story of older Danish art interspersed with monographs that offer in-depth treatments of some of the greatest artists of the era, among these Abildgaard, Eckersberg, Købke, Ring, and Hammershøi. At the same time the new display lays down another track that focuses on those who were not perfectly adapted to accepted art history, on offbeat art, on “wrongly gendered” art, etc. These auxiliary narratives can be summed up as a Romantic/idealistic undercurrent within Danish 19th century art; an undercurrent that runs parallel to the generally accepted main narrative inspired by France. For example, the Gallery has persuaded lenders to provide four paintings by Caspar David Friedrich for the new presentation. One of the key exhibition rooms is dedicated to the interplay between the great German artist and his Danish contemporaries, who regarded his visionary empathy with the moods of nature as an inspirational Romantic alternative to Eckersberg’s rather more sober and rational depictions of nature.

New themes and new approaches to education
One of the underlying ambitions behind all of the new presentations currently being developed by the Gallery is to ensure that historical matters and material re-main relevant to contemporary audiences. In addition to the major – and minor – tracks laid down in the chronological presentation, "Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900" also provides contemporary perspectives on the art from the era. Several of the exhibition rooms are devoted to themes that reverberate with relevance to our own time. Particular works and particular communication activities are used to place especial emphasis on issues such as body and gender in art, and in-depth attention is also paid to art’s interest in journeys as motif and metaphor. In keeping with this approach, the new display involves a range of all-new digital and analogue education and communication initiatives. An entire room is dedicated to a particularly important work from the collection; this work is replaced by another every six months. The first of this series of highlights is Eckersberg’s canonical View through Three Arches of the Third Storey of the Colosseum, which is given an in-depth treatment through a wide range of educational and communication approaches.

"Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900" and its companion "French Art 1900-30" represent stage one of the comprehensive efforts to revitalise the collections housed at the National Gallery of Denmark. They will be joined by the new display of "European Art 1300-1800" on 26 November, and 31 March 2012 will see the range of new displays of the Gallery collections completed with "Danish and International Art after 1900”.

The new presentations of the collections are kindly supported by
The A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation and The Obel Family Foundation.


PRESS PHOTOS can be downloaded HERE.

For further information, please contact:

Head of Press
Jakob Fibiger Andreasen
E jakob.fibiger_@_smk.dk
T +45 3374 8474
M +45 2961 6949

Head of Collections and Research
Peter Nørgaard Larsen
E peter.larsen_@_smk.dk
T +45 3374 8536

Updated: 7.jul.2014
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