National Gallery of Denmark - Press releases Latest posts en National Gallery of Denmark - Press releases 18 16 Latest posts TYPO3 - get.content.right Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:30:00 +0100 New exhibition at SMK delves into the relationship between artistic creation and institutional support From 7 December 2017, the x-room venue at SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark will show the... From 7 December 2017, the x-room venue at SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark will show the exhibition SÅ LÆNGE DET VARER* by internationally renowned artist Nairy Baghramian. With an installation produced especially for the x-room, Baghramian reflects on the role of the institutional frame as an experimental space that is made available to contemporary art.

In her multi-layered sculptural work, Nairy Baghramian implements an architectural reminiscence of the Renaissance Society in Chicago, thus referring to the history and meaning of this influential US institution. Through the transference of the grid-like ceiling structure from the Renaissance Society into the x-room at SMK, she creates a situation that calls attention to the general interdependence between artistic creation and institutional representation.

Reflecting on the ceiling grid at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, initially conceived as an architectural feature holding lamps etc. and then, over decades, worked over and repeatedly subjected to interventions by artists, Baghramian uses the grid almost as a matrix. The structure has since been taken down, but Baghramian obtained a piece of the original grid to cast her sculpture from. In her version, the originally solid, load-bearing grid structure is transformed into light, semi-transparent shapes propped up by thin polished metal rods.

The steel truss grid can be seen as a support structure for The Renaissance Society and has become an iconic representation of the institution and the pioneering curatorial work of Susanne Ghez, who, through her unwavering continuity and loyalty to the institution over 40 years, represents the urgency of permanent commitment. The Renaissance Society represents an institutional framing that has been inspirational to institutions interacting with contemporary artists. Baghramian’s sculptural work meanders through the x-room pointing to the experimental potential, which spaces like this are supporting.

Baghramian is generally interested in supports – in what holds up something, in that which something stands upon, in what underpins and shores up functions in our bodies, in our spaces and in our everyday lives.

As is often the case in Baghramian's installations, she introduces a further level of meaning through a photographic work: The self-portrait Smart Water, which is an artistic reference to the conceptual artist Michael Asher’s seminal public sculpture Untitled, 1991, located on the campus of the University of California San Diego. The photo shows Baghramian drinking from Asher’s sculpture, which transfers a well-known architectural feature from official US buildings, a drinking fountain, into stone, and into an outdoor space.

The exhibition title SÅ LÆNGE DET VARER* is a translation of the text piece AS LONG AS IT LASTS by the artist Lawrence Weiner, who in 1994 painted a version of this work on the walls of The Renaissance Society.

About Nairy Baghramian
German artist Nairy Baghramian (born in 1971 in Isfahan, Iran) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. The x-room exhibition constitutes the artist’s first solo show in Scandinavia.

Baghramian’s exhibition activity includes DOCUMENTA 14, Kassel (2017), Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017 and 2007, and solo shows at e.g. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017–18), S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent (2016), Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2015), Art Institute of Chicago (2014).

Nairy Baghramian: SÅ LÆNGE DET VARER*
7 December 2017 – 2 April 2018

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>> About x-rummet

Official opening 6 December 17.00 to 19.00
All are welcome. Free admission to the exhibition.

For press access to the exhibition prior to the official opening, please contact Ayoe Torbensdóttir,

For more information, please contact
Marianne Torp
Chief curator and senior researcher
T: +45 2552 7224

Ayoe Torbensdottir
Communication assistant
T: +45 2552 7205

Thank you for support to the x-room


Ayoe Torbensdóttir Mon, 04 Dec 2017 17:47:00 +0100
Family life in 2017 is up for discussion in new show at SMK British artist Gillian Wearing is interested in real life experiences. In her art she gives people... Throughout her career Gillian Wearing has addressed the question of how the concept of family is perceived and should be understood today. She seeks to illuminate the many different ways relationships form the patterns of our lives.

From 13 October 2017 Gillian Wearing – Family Stories features a range of the artist’s works from 1992 to the present day that works with the theme of the family. The work includes photography, film and sculpture.

Gillian Wearing explains her interest:
“I look for situations where there is an element of truth. People can’t relate to a made-up fantasy of what a family is; they might aspire to it for themselves. But if they are to view someone else’s situation then they want something that is honest,” says Gillian Wearing.

Her new work A Real Danish Family, involves 492 Danish families, a jury, a TV show and a large-scale public bronze sculpture of a Danish family that will be unveiled on 13 October 2017 at SMK – which is also the day the museum opens the exhibition Gillian Wearing – Family Stories, parts of which chronicles the process of finding A Real Danish Family.

13 October 2017 – 7 January 2018
Gillian Wearing  – Family Stories

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>> Read more about Gillian Wearing here
>> Read more about the catalogue GILLIAN WEARING Family Stories

A Real Danish Family

Public sculptures traditionally depict larger-than-life figures: famous people, royalty and mythical heroes, never families. However, with the nationwide sculpture project "A Real Danish Family". The project was first launched in the autumn of 2016, at which point all families in Denmark were invited to take part in a competition where they might end up immortalised in bronze. A total of 492 signed up, and a jury eventually picked one family as the winner. They have now sat for a life-sized bronze statue that will be erected in Copenhagen.

The Danish Broadcasting Corporation, DR, followed the entire process: From interviews with the various families who signed up all across the country to the jury’s deliberations and the final choice of the winning family. DR has made three TV programmes about the project; these will air for the first time on 2, 9 and 16 October 2017 on DR2.

Wearing has carried out similar sculpture projects twice before, in Trento and in Birmingham. On those occasions they were called "A Typical Trentino Family" (2008) and "A Real Birmingham Family" (2014).

“I think it’s really hard to relate to most monuments around the world. They are famous people and they are normally very high up in lofty situations and you can’t see them. They’re on a pedestal and they are carved from a fictional idea of that person. Where this will be based on real people that are living now. And the clothes they wear now. I want to do this in bronze because a family should be strong, like bronze,“ explains Gillian Wearing.

The "A Real Danish Family" project was initiated by Kunsthal Aarhus and carried out as a collaboration between Gillian Wearing, Kunsthal Aarhus, DR and SMK. The project is supported by the Bikuben Foundation, the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Arts Foundation.

For more information, please contact:
Marianne Torp, Senior research curator
Phone: +45 2552 7224

Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard, Head of press
Phone:  +45 2552 7203

Karen Søndergaard Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:07:00 +0200
SMK Fridays: Your brainy Friday bar is back Music, art talks and a salon where you can have your ears painted green: SMK is ready to launch a... On 25 August SMK welcomes all to the first SMK Fridays event of the season, offering a wealth of visual impressions, words and sounds. To help celebrate the Cph Art Week, SMK joins forces with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde, inviting you to an entire evening on the theme of Sound & Vision – an evening that explores the fields where visual and aural art intersect.

Throughout the evening you will be able to experience vast total installations, concert performances and art that merges sound and imagery. As always, visitors can enjoy art talks, drinks, artist DJs and street food.

Get your ear painted green
The Danish Fluxus artist and composer Henning Christiansen proclaimed the year 1984 to be the “Green-ear-year”. One of his actions consisted in taking over a barber’s chair in a Horsens salon for an entire day, painting the ears greens on anyone willing to take part. The green ear is a gesture that encourages us to listen to the sound of nature as if it were music. This evening we repeat his action: everyone can get a green ear with which to listen.

Sound performance featuring Felia Gram-Hanssen & Meshes
In 1984 Henning Christiansen composed a score called Grundtone (Base Note). This evening, artist and musician Felia Gram-Hanssen and the performance group Meshes re-enact and interpret Christiansen’s work with the aid of two drum kits, cymbals and two dancers.

Concert performance featuring Peter & the Danish Defence

Working in collaboration with the Danish Defence forces, the artist and musician Peter Voss-Knude has interpreted the thoughts and experiences of soldiers formerly posted abroad, translating them into pop songs, drawings and video works. This evening, Peter & the Danish Defence present a concert performance based on Voss-Knude’s years of collaborating with the Danish Defence and his conversations with soldiers.

Underneath the bridge
At the x-room you still have your last chance to see the vast motorway flyover created by the acclaimed British artist Mark Leckey. In this immersive installation, the interplay between the huge phantom bridge and a sound piece produced especially for this work takes you back to the artist’s childhood hideout. Throughout the evening we will host art talks underneath the flyover, focusing on how sounds, objects and images can trigger memories, thoughts and emotions.

Street food, bar and museum ice cream
In a departure from our usual set-up, this SMK Fridays event will include food stands and bars in the front and back gardens of the museum. In the Østre Anlæg park, Kødbyens Mad & Marked and Copenhagen Cooking will offer food talks, music and creative culinary experiences. In the Museum Garden you can buy food and beverages as always. To celebrate the late summer, we have even added an extra twist to the SMK Fridays menu: the popular SMK ice cream produced especially for the museum by Østerberg Is.

And much more… For example, the artists Kasper Vang and Jonas Olesen from Institut for Dansk Lydarkæologi present DJ sets featuring music from the sound archives and vast record collection housed at the Museum of Contemporary Art. On the Stage you can see Christian Marclay’s video work Telephones from 1995 – a film combining clips of telephone conversations from famous Hollywood films. You can also join in as we quite literally pull original artistic ideas out of our pockets and tackle art through brief, incisive art talks.

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Practical information
SMK Fridays: Sound & Vision
25 August from 16.00 to 22.00
Free admission

For additional information, please contact:

Ayoe Torbensdóttir
Communication assistant
T: +45 2552 7205

SMK Fridays is sponsored by Bikubenfonden





About SMK Fridays

Seven Fridays a year SMK stays open later than usual, inviting everyone to explore art in in alternative ways.

SMK Fridays take place from 16.00 to 22.00. Admission is free, everyone is welcome and no booking is required. The programme varies from one event to the next, but will usually include a range of art talks held in the exhibition areas, music, film screenings or other performances on the Stage, and artist DJs.

SMK FRIDAYS #28 – 25 August l 16.00-22.00
SMK FRIDAYS #29 – 15 September l 16.00-22.00
SMK FRIDAYS #30 – 17 November l 16.00-22.00

Ayoe Torbensdóttir Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:00:00 +0200
Christian II wanted to reclaim power through pictures Christian II is one of Denmark’s most fascinating kings – and the first Danish king to properly use... Christian II is one of Denmark’s most fascinating kings – and the first Danish king to properly use visual art to promote himself and his political agendas. From 15 June a new exhibition arranged by the Royal Collection of Graphic Art at SMK demonstrates how he used art as a tool to aid his political strategies.

Christian II is famous as the king who married into one of the most powerful noble houses of Europe, angered the aristocracy, lost his crown and was banished from the country. At the same time he had to navigate between the old Catholic Church and the new Lutheran faith. And Christian II was the first Danish king to extensively use pictures in his efforts to promote himself and his political agendas.

In a new exhibition arranged by The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, SMK shows how Christian II used pictures strategically – both while he was still king and when he was exiled, striving in vain to reclaim his lost realms. 

Pictures as weapons
Christian II was a man of vision. He wanted to bring the Nordic realms together as one. Indeed, by 1520 he had become ruler of Denmark, Norway and Sweden/Finland. However, he was deposed in 1523 and went into exile in the Netherlands, where he plotted to reclaim his realms.

During Christian II’s time in exile in the Netherlands from 1523 to 1531, his key goal was to reclaim power. He needed to persuade rulers as well as the bourgeoisie that he had been unjustly deposed, and that his noble efforts to reclaim the throne deserved support. Pictures became one of his most important tools in this struggle.

Inspired by his Habsburg family, who were experts at communicating through pictures, Christian II used paintings and – especially – prints, both engravings and woodcuts, to get his message out to all relevant persons. And he used the most famous artists of the age for his propaganda.

Even though Christian II’s made extensive efforts to reclaim his throne, he never succeeded. During one of his attempts, in 1532, he was captured by the new king, Frederick I, and lived the rest of his life in captivity until his death in 1559.

Luther and the Protestant Reformation
The exhibition Pictures and Power. The Visual Politics of Christian II is produced on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation – the revolt against the old (“Catholic”) Church and the formation of the Protestant religious communities. The exhibition demonstrates how Martin Luther, who launched the Reformation movement with his famous 95 Theses against the Church’s trade in indulgences, not only had a major impact on Christian II’s faith, but also on the king’s use of pictures.

Works from The Royal Collection of Graphic Art
Pictures and Power. The Visual Politics of Christian II is an exhibition of works from The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, which is one of the oldest collections of prints and drawings in the world.  Numbering more than 240,000 works of art, the collection has roots that may go all the way back to the sixteenth century. The exhibition also features paintings from the SMK collections and loans from major European museums, including the National Gallery in London and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, engravings and woodcuts by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Jan Gossart, Michiel Sittow and Lucas Cranach the Elder.



1481: Christian II is born, son of king John of Denmark and queen Christine.

Death of king John; Christian II accedes to the throne.

1514: Christian II marries Isabella of Austria (1501-1526), who becomes known as queen Elisabeth in Denmark. As a member of the powerful House of Habsburg, grandchild of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and sister of the next emperor Karl V, she was one of the most eligible women of her time.

1520: Christian II becomes king of Sweden/Finland. In order to quell all future Swedish resistance, he executes many members of the Swedish elite in the so-called Stockholm Bloodbath.

1522: Inspired by his Habsburg family in the Netherlands, Christian II improves conditions for the merchant bourgeoisie in the cities at the expense of the aristocracy's established privileges.

1523: The aristocracy denounce Christian II and appoint his uncle, Frederick I, as regent. Christian II escapes to the Netherlands with his family.

1532: Christian II sets sail for Denmark, where he has agreed to enter negotiations with Frederick I. Frederick breaks his promise and takes Christian II directly to Sønderborg Castle, where he is imprisoned.

1559: In January, Christian II dies in captivity at Kalundborg Castle.

Pictures and Power. The Visual Politics of Christian II
15 June – 10 September 2017

>> Press images for Pictures and Power. The Visual Politics of Christian II

Opening on 14 June 5 - 7 PM
All are welcome. Free admission to the exhibition

For additional information, please contact:

Curator, senior reseacher
Hanne Kolind Poulsen
T: +45 2552 7217

Art interpreter
Mette Houlberg Rung
T: +45 25527186

Digital communication assistant
Ayoe Torbensdóttir
T: +45 2552 7205


The exhibition is supported by:

Ayoe Torbensdóttir Fri, 26 May 2017 19:23:00 +0200
Mark Leckey creates new sound work and a giant motorway bridge for SMK Inspired by recollections of a motorway bridge from his own childhood, internationally acclaimed... British artist Mark Leckey (b. 1964) grew up outside Liverpool in England. With the exhibition He Thrusts his Fists against the Posts but Still Insists he Sees the Ghosts he invites audiences to join him in returning to a very distinctive place from his own childhood: the ramps underneath the M53 motorway bridge in Ellesmere Port.

For the x-room venue at the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), he has recreated from memory the bridge and ramps where he and his friends hung out in the early 1970s.

An exorcism in the x-room
“Many of my works have their wellspring in things and experiences from my childhood and youth that still haunt me. The motorway bridge is one of those things that have settled in my memory. That is why I have recreated it. It is as if memories of this kind take on too much importance, too much room. They become too overwhelming”, says Mark Leckey. According to Leckey, all his works are a kind of exorcism – the urge to create a work arises when something becomes too toxic and must be expelled and eradicated.

One of the distinctive traits of Mark Leckey’s artistic practice concerns his use of found objects and found footage, i.e. existing objects, images, sound and video footage. Speaking about the M53 Bridge, Leckey says:

“I’d like museumgoers to have a psychedelic experience when they step into the room. I’d like the light, the scale of the bridge and the music to transport them to a different state of mind,” he explains, speaking about a major transformation of the x-room that involves not only a giant phantom bridge awash with sodium lights, but also peeling posters and a new audio piece embedding the entire installation in an immersive soundscape.

The sound piece is reminiscent of a cross between a lecture, a radio broadcast, an autobiographical narrative and a DJ set. It is made out of audio samples that span four decades, live recordings, historical facts and Leckey’s own reflections and thoughts. Created especially for the exhibition at SMK, the new audio work represents a continuation of a performance that Leckey staged in connection with his most recent exhibition, Mark Leckey: Containers and Their Drivers, at MoMA PS1 in New York.


When the museum hosts its SMK Fridays event on 5 May, the evening will also focus on Mark Leckey and his exhibition in the x-room. For example, SMK Fridays visitors will be able to hear exhibition curator Marianne Torp speak about Leckey’s artistic practice and the ideas behind He Thrusts his Fists against the Posts but Still Insists he Sees the Ghosts.

From 20.30 onwards the Stage will screen his video work Dream English Kid 1964-1999 AD, where the vast motorway bridge makes its first appearance in Leckey’s work.

About Mark Leckey
Ever since the late 1990s Mark Leckey has been a prominent figure on the international contemporary art scene. He first shot to fame with his 1999 video work Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, a celebration of British dance culture, and in recent years Leckey has reaffirmed his position with an exhibition cycle at the prominent venues of WEILS in Brussels, Haus Der Kunst in Munich, Madre in Naples and Kunsthalle Basel in 2014-15.

His works and performances have also been exhibited at e.g. the Serpentine Gallery in London and most recently at MoMA PS1 in New York. In 2008 Leckey was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize for his work Industrial Light and Magic. Leckey’s artistic practice spans a wide range of media, from installations, prints and sculptures to video, performance and sound works.

Mark Leckey: He Thrusts his Fists against the Posts but Still Insists he Sees the Ghosts
4 May – 3 September 2017

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>> About the x-room

Official opening: Wednesday 3 May from 5 pm.
Free admission to the exhibition

For media access to the exhibition prior to the official opening, please contact Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard,, to arrange a visit.

For more information, please contact:

Marianne Torp
Chief curator, senior researcher
T: +45 2552 7224

Ayoe Torbensdottir
Communication assistant

Thank you for support to the x-room

Ayoe Torbensdóttir Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:33:00 +0200
Untold stories from Denmark’s colonial past on display at SMK A new special display at SMK – What Lies Unspoken, co-created with the Malmö University research... At first glance all seems perfectly tranquil in Jens Juel’s monumental painting of the Ryberg family. The same applies to Astrid Holm’s portrayal of Rose laying a table while surrounded by flowers – a scene of serenity and warmth. However, these paintings are also evidence of Denmark’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, and as a colonial ruler in the former Danish West Indies (St Croix, St Thomas, and St John).

The centenary of the sale of the three islands to the USA in 1917 has prompted SMK, working in co-operation with the Royal Library in Copenhagen and the Living Archives research project, to take a fresh look at some of the works in the museum’s collection – and at the communication and messages that have traditionally accompanied these works.

What Lies Unspoken

The special display What Lies Unspoken is open from 6 May. The exhibition includes works from the SMK collections that represent people of African descent, or can be linked to Denmark’s colonial history. See works by C.W. Eckersberg, Marcus Tuscher, Astrid Holm, Nicolai Abildgaard and Jens Juel.

The first room of the exhibition shows works from around 1650 to 1950, selected and presented by the museum’s curators. The display is accompanied by an audio guide produced in collaboration with Mary Consolata Namagambe, a legal counsellor and active debater. The works in the second room were selected by art historian Temi Odumosu from the research project Living Archives. She has also created a sound collage that pieces together excerpts of present-day conversations about and responses to the works in the exhibition. The sound collage was created on the basis of recordings made during workshops held this spring.

A poorly elucidated past in art
The vast wealth accumulated by the merchant portrayed in Jens Juel’s painting, Niels Ryberg, was amassed through the sales of goods for use on slave ships and in the slave trade. And Astrid Holm’s Rose may have been a descendant of one of the many enslaved people who were forced to serve Danish families in the Danish West Indies.

According to SMK’s director, Mikkel Bogh, the question of how Denmark’s colonial past – and the colonial era in general – is reflected in the collections of SMK is a highly relevant issue, particularly for a national gallery.

“The SMK collections constitute a key source for our understanding of how political authorities and the cultural scene have defined national self-image through the ages – and it is the museum’s duty to help finesse the discussion on subjects that are relevant to our present-day society and the people who live in it. Hence, What Lies Unspoken does not present final results and conclusions; rather, it is the beginning of an examination where new questions are asked, helping us to see the works in a new light and focusing on hitherto overlooked aspects of the collection,” says Mikkel Bogh.

A present-day look at Denmark’s colonial past

Past studies of the works exhibited here have focused on the history of the Danish families involved. With What Lies Unspoken SMK also wishes to consider the works from the perspective of enslaved people – an aspect that has so far been overlooked. This has required the museum’s curators to ask other questions than the ones they would usually pose. For example, they have considered the designations used about the people portrayed in the works, whether information about any of the African people was available, the background and reasons behind the creation of the various works, and how the works are perceived today.

The preparations for this exhibition unearthed new insights and shifts in how we perceive familiar works from the museum’s collection. These were supported and provoked by a special communication initiative engaging with perspectives and interpretations of artworks not ordinarily utilised as research material by the museum.

Facilitating dialogues with a diverse range of people, art historian Temi Odumosu from Living Archives has created a sound collage of present-day conversations and responses to the works in the exhibition. These voices offer alternative ways of reading and engaging with art we think we already know.

What Lies Unspoken
5 May – 30 December 2017

>> Press images for What Lies Unspoken

The exhibition is created in collaboration with the Royal Library in Copenhagen and the research project Living Archives at Malmö University. From 19 May 2017 The Royal Library in Copenhagen will show the exhibition Blind Spots. Images of the Danish West Indies colony.

What Lies Unspoken is funded by the Nordea Foundation and is part of the Historier om Danmark project.











For additional information, please contact

Henrik Holm
T: +45 2552 7219

Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard
Head of Press
T: +45 2552 7203

Ayoe Torbensdóttir
Communication assistent


Untold stories get heard

The special display What Lies Unspoken opens on 5 May as part of SMK Fridays , which will centre on Denmark’s past as a colonial power. The evening’s programme will include art talks, film screenings and guided walks to works in the collection that can help us explore how Denmark’s identity as a colonial power is reflected in the museum’s collections.
Friday 5 May 16.00 to 22.00

This one weekend only, SMK Fridays extends through Saturday , as SMK joins the CAFx festival of architecture to invite everyone to explorethe Royal Cast Collection. Here you can experience Danish-Caribbean artist Jeannette Ehler’s performance Whip it Good and attend a Q&A session where she focuses on the legacy of colonialism.
Saturday 6 May 15.00 to 17.30

Ayoe Torbensdóttir Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:50:00 +0200
SMK receives funding to support integration of new citizens in Denmark SMK sets up a new, experimental social meeting place that focuses on inter-cultural language... In recent years SMK has built a large network of people who do not have Danish as their first language, and the museum has had excellent results with combining art experiences with learning Danish – for example in courses and in an employment programme for language school students.

The museum has now received funding to continue this work by launching a new initiative: SMK KOM. Every Wednesday the museum will serve as a meeting place for anyone who wants to experience art and improve their Danish language skills. Art will form the starting point of the conversations held there, and research has shown that discussing art can strengthen the participants’ language skills.

“We know that viewing art together and putting your experience into words can do something very special. The conversation soon turns to questions about life lessons, identity and emotions. And that’s very motivational if you’re learning a new language and entering new social spheres," says Julie Johnsen, who is an art educator at SMK and one of the people behind the project.

The Wednesday sessions will be hosted by language school students who have previously worked at SMK. Everyone who shows up will help determine what happens at each session.

In addition to strengthening the participants’ language skills, the project also reflects SMK’s wish to be interesting and relevant to a wider demographic.

“SMK wants to – and has a duty to – constantly explore what it means to be a national gallery, and what it means to be national museum in a country and a world where cultures, languages and nationalities mix and merge,” says Julie Johnsen.

Practical information about SMK KOM
Speak Danish, watch art and meet new people every Wednesday from 16.00 to 19.00 until 28 June 2017 (SMK KOM will return in autumn). Admittance is free and open to anyone who wants to improve their Danish skills – or help others do the same. No advance registration necessary.

Venue: The Sculpture Street at SMK.

You are welcome to come and go as you please from 16.00 to 19.00

SMK KOM is sponsored by Sportgoodsfonden

For more information, please contact:

Art Educator
Julie Marie Johnsen
T: +45 2552 7194

Head of Press
Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard
T: +45 2552 7203

Karen Søndergaard Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:54:00 +0200
Nordic masters come together in Copenhagen There is good news for everyone who likes Scandinavian art. All through the spring and summer the... Take a journey back to the birth of Nordic art in the nineteenth century in the company of eminent artists such as Edvard Munch, Albert Edelfelt, Vilhelm Hammershøi, J.C. Dahl, C.W. Eckersberg, Christen Købke, P.S. Krøyer, Johan Thomas Lundbye Anna Ancher, L.A. Ring, Bertha Wegmann, Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann, Nicolai Abildgaard, Jens Juel, Anna Petersen and many more.

SMK, National Gallery of Denmark owns the most extensive and important collection of Nordic art in Denmark, and this spring and summer the museum brings together a wealth of masterpieces – numbering around 110 paintings – for the exhibition Nordic Highlights. The exhibition also offers a unique opportunity to see very special loans from the Canica Kunstsamling, a vast Norwegian private collection.

Artistic friendships in Copenhagen
Danish art experienced two particularly thriving periods in the nineteenth century: the Danish Golden Age (approximately 1800 to 1850) and the modern breakthrough (1880 to 1900). Several Danish artists from these periods – especially Eckersberg, Købke and Hammershøi – have attracted great international attention in recent years and are represented at a wide range of art museums in Europe and the USA.

Throughout the nineteenth century, artists from the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark – engaged in close, mutually inspiring artistic exchanges. Copenhagen became a crucial stopover destination for Nordic artists travelling further afield in Europe, and here they exchanged ideas and views of art with their Danish colleagues. Many fruitful friendships arose out of such meetings, and several artists maintained lifelong artistic dialogues with each other.

During the early part of this period, the friendship between Danish artist Eckersberg and Norwegian artist Dahl in particular set the tone for an entire generation of young Nordic painters. Later, eminent artists such as Munch (Norway), Strindberg (Sweden) and Edelfelt (Finland) entered into artistic conversations and interplay with Danish painters such as Krøyer and Hammershøi.

Light in the dark
The Nordic artists share a distinctive sensibility in relation to light. The many months of winter darkness made them particularly aware of the play of sunlight and shade, whether in the main capitals of art at the time – Rome and Paris – or up in the Nordic wildernesses. The bright Nordic summer nights fascinated many of these painters, inspiring them to create some of the absolute masterpieces of the period.

Nordic Highlights
Focus on Danish and Nordic Art 1750–1900
8 April – 13 August 2017

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For more information, please contact:

Kasper Monrad
Chief curator, senior researcher
Tel. +45 2552 7222

Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard
Head of press
Tel. +45 2552 7203

Karen Søndergaard Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:47:00 +0100
When Japan arrived in the North Mount Fuji covered in snow, cherry trees in blossom and “The Great Wave”: in the second half of the... One of the best-known and best-loved paintings in the SMK collections is Laurits Andersen Ring’s The Artist’s Wife. L.A. Ring painted this declaration of love to Sigrid Kähler in 1897, and in addition to portraying the artist’s wife in a moment of bliss the work also exemplifies how Japanese influences left their mark on Nordic art: the garden may be Danish, but shown full of decorative blossoming trees with gnarled branches as in Japanese art, and the woman herself is captured in a Zen-like moment of calm.

With the exhibition Japanomania in the North 1875–1918 SMK turns back time to show how Western art became infused by Japanese aesthetics: asymmetrical compositions, decorative subject matter, meditative imagery and close observation of birds, fish, insects, branches and flowers. This is the first exhibition ever in Denmark to demonstrate the impact of Japonisme on Nordic art.

The influence from Japan was particularly strong on artists such as Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, van Gogh, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Anna Ancher, Albert Edelfelt and L.A. Ring, all of whom are featured in the exhibition.

Many of the artists who were swept up by the craze for all things Japanese also staged themselves and their families in silk kimonos, fans, parasols and paper lamps, using photographs to immortalise themselves as Japonistes – either at their studios or in their own homes, decorated in the Japanese style.

How Japan reached Europe
Japan had been largely isolated and inaccessible to the Western world from the 1630s until around 1853, when the country opened its borders to allow international trade. This gave Europe access to Japanese goods and art. The “new” objects were featured at a range of world’s fairs, and the term “Japonisme” was coined to describe the wave of art and applied art inspired by Japanese aesthetics.

With Denmark as the main conduit, Japonisme arrived slightly later in the Nordic countries than in e.g. France and England. Japanese woodcuts in particular became a major source of inspiration, offering artists a different way of looking at the nature that surrounded them.

The artist and art critic Karl Madsen (1855-1938) was a key figure in the introduction of Japanese art in the Nordic countries. In 1885 he published the book Japansk Malerkunst (Japanese Painting). Being the first book on the subject in a Nordic language, it became very influential among artists and collectors.

The exhibition is a collaborative effort created by the national galleries in Helsinki, Oslo and Copenhagen.

Japanomania in the North 1875–1918
19 January – 23 April 2017

>> Press photos for Japanomania in the North 1875–1918

Press preview Tuesday 17 January 2017 at 11.00.
Please confirm your attendance in advance; contact Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard:

For more information, please contact:

Deputy Director
Director of Collections and Research
Peter Nørgaard Larsen
Phone: +45 2552 7210

Art Interpreter
Annette Rosenvold Hvidt
Phone: +45 2552 7232

Head of Press
Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard
Phone: +45 2552 7203

Karen Søndergaard Thu, 24 Nov 2016 12:28:00 +0100
National Gallery of Denmark acquires important work The National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst – SMK) has received a spectacular gift: a... The SMK collections are now enriched by an important new work. Thanks to truly extraordinary support from the Augustinus Foundation, Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansen’s Foundation and the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation, the museum has been able to acquire the painting After the Storm from 1817 by the German artist Caspar David Friedrich.

Friedrich holds a special position within Romantic art and is considered the most important German painter of the first half of the nineteenth century. His landscapes are carried by a dual approach: a visionary outlook on nature and a meticulous study of even the smallest of natural phenomena. Depictions of nature imbued with a keenly felt spiritual or religious quality are an important aspect of his art. SMK has long wished to acquire a painting by Friedrich, says Mikkel Bogh, director of SMK.

"We have dreamt of adding Caspar David Friedrich to our collection for a long time, and we’ve been particularly interested in this painting. Friedrich, whose approach to landscapes had a massive impact on Nordic art in the nineteenth century, very rarely appears on the art market. This work is a truly unique and magnificent addition to our collection of European art, and I am very pleased that we are now able to share this painting with our guests,”says Mikkel Bogh.

In After the Storm a ship has run off course, smashing onto the rocks. But perhaps the rocks are also the ship’s salvation, embedding it on firm ground. Ships at sea were a recurring theme in Caspar David Friedrich’s art, often symbolising the journey of life. Perhaps this scene shows the firm bedrock of faith saving the ship. 

After the Storm belongs to Friedrich’s mature period, a time when several of his most important works were created. Its subject matter prefigures his masterpiece The Sea of Ice from 1824. On the back of the old nineteenth century frame is a wax seal that provides key information about the past history of the painting. The seal belongs to a Dresden family called Bongardt, which presumably acquired the painting back in Friedrich’s own day, and the work remained in the family’s ownership until 1956. This is to say that the painting did not change hands during the years of Nazi rule. The most recent owner bought the painting in the late 1980s, and it was presented to the public through Galerie Arnoldi-Livie in Munich in 1987. 

The then-director of SMK, Villads Villadsen, contacted the gallery to inquire about the price, but at the time it was beyond the museum’s purse. The painting remained unsold, but was loaned to Neue Pinakothek in Munich, where it hung for twenty-five years. SMK borrowed it for the exhibition Caspar David Friedrich and Denmark in 1991. The fact that the Friedrich painting has now found a new home at SMK is something of a coincidence, explains Kasper Monrad, chief curator and senior researcher at SMK.

”Amusingly, the process was actually launched by a rather too fantastical proposition. Back in 2012, a Danish art dealer contacted us, offering to sell us this exact painting. The price was somewhat vague, but quite high, and it was not quite possible to ascertain whether the art dealer actually had the painting in his possession or whether he was merely a go-between. After some time, however, he announced that the painting had been sold to an American art museum. When I saw the painting in its accustomed place at Neue Pinakothek a few weeks later, I was of course rather surprised and so contacted its owners – who had never heard of the Danish art dealer. The painting was not for sale at that time, but we had an excellent chat, and the owners promised that they would keep SMK in mind if they ever decided to sell. They did so a few months ago,” relates Kasper Monrad. 

Friedrich’s paintings are highly sought-after, and only very few remain in private ownership. Over the last twenty-five years only five paintings have been sold at auction. Four out of those five have ended up at some of the leading museums in the world: the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

About Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) grew up in Greifswald near the Baltic Sea, and he visited the nearby island of Rügen all his life. Here he repeatedly observed the sky and sea in all weathers, and coastal scenes and marines make up a very sizable part of his paintings and drawings. It is likely that his preliminary sketches for After the Storm were made at the coast of Rügen. The dramatic, finely nuanced depiction of the stormy sky testifies to how Friedrich, like many other European painters, was keenly interested in exploring cloud formations and changing lighting conditions. He has very carefully portrayed details such as the gulls, the partially broken mast, the fluttering ropes and the rain falling out at sea.

Friedrich’s art was well known and much admired in Denmark during his own day, and after studying art in Copenhagen in 1794–98 he maintained some contact with the Danish art scene. He lived in Dresden, but several Danish artists made his acquaintance, not least due to his friendship with the Norwegian landscape painter J.C. Dahl. His painstaking study of nature in particular linked Friedrich to Danish art. Several young Danish painters looked to Friedrich for inspiration, wanting a more atmospheric and Romantic feel to their art than was offered by their teacher, Eckersberg.

At SMK After the Storm hangs in Room 217 E, side by side with paintings by J.C. Dahl and other landscape painters of the Romantic era.

Donated by
Augustinus Fonden
Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond
A.P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal

For more information, please contact:
Head of Press
Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard
T: +45 2552 7203

Karen Søndergaard Wed, 14 Dec 2016 14:16:00 +0100