Alessandro Casolani, St Mary Magdalen with a skull in her arms, 1591

Alessandro Casolani, Ung kvinde som betragter et kranium, før 1591


From idea to masterpiece. An exhibition about artistic creation

How is a work of art made? How does an artist progress from the initial idea to the finished masterpiece? That was the question addressed by this season’s major exhibition at SMK.

Rembrandt, Edgar Degas, Nicolai Abildgaard, Bertel Thorvaldsen, Christen Købke, P.S. Krøyer and many more. You could examine the works and methods of some of the greatest figures of art history in this season’s major special exhibition at SMK. 

The exhibition delved into the methods used by various artists, giving you rare insight into the artistic process right from the initial ideas to the fully finished work. A stellar selection of major masterpieces accompanied by rarely-seen sketches and studies allowed you to trace the artists’ works and methods, exploring why and how these works ended up looking as they do.

More than 150 drawings, prints and paintings from the 15th to the 20th century enabled you to scrutinise the links between sketches and finished art works, exploring how artistic creativity has unfolded itself in different ways through the ages.

Croquis drawing, film and talks
Inside the exhibition you found our Drawing Studio. Here you could try out various artistic modes of expression for yourself or gain insight into how four different contemporary artists work and find inspiration.

Drawing workshops

Every Sunday from 13.00 to 14.00 we invite everyone to take part in a croquis drawing class right in the middle of the art. We supply pencils and paper, and our resident house artists are happy to offer assistance and advice. Admission is free with a valid SMK ticket or Annual Pass. Subject to availability.

A lifetime of research

The exhibition is based on the lifelong study of Old Master drawings conducted by Chris Fischer, senior researcher and head of SMK’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Master Drawings.

Fischer is an internationally acclaimed scholar within the field of master drawings and has arranged exhibitions at institutions such as the Louvre in Paris and the Uffizi in Florence. He is the world’s foremost researcher on the work of the Italian Renaissance artist Fra Bartolommeo, who ranks alongside Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo as one of the four pre-eminent artists of the High Renaissance.

Conservation history

The SMK paper conservators take a close look at an exciting sketch and reveal its hidden narratives.

Guided tours

How is a work of art created? How do artists progress from their initial ideas to the final result? Join us for a guided tour where we look for answers to these questions. In Danish.

Sundays from 15.00 to 15.45 until 6 May 2018. Free with a valid SMK ticket or Annual Pass.


Listen as curator Chris Fischer, head of SMK’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Master Drawings, takes you on a tour of the exhibition.

Practical information

Exhibition period:
8 February 6 May 2018

Opening hours
Tuesdays – Sundays 11–17
Wednesdays 11–20
Mondays closed

Admission fee
Adults: DKK 110
Under 30: DKK 85
Under 18: Free
1 adult + 1 child: DKK 90
Annual pass holders: Free

Annual pass for SMK
Get an annual pass, skip the queue and get a full year of free access to all exhibitions at SMK. 

See the benefits you enjoy with an Annual Pass to the SMK.

4x Artist talks

Rolf Nowotny, Ursula Reuter Christiansen, Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen and Ann Lislegaard.

Our curators meet a succession of artists for a talk about creativity and artistic processes. Free with a valid SMK ticket or Annual Pass.

Exhibition catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue written by Chris Fischer. It offers studies of the creative process, exploring every step from idea to finished work.

The catalogue also describes how factors such as tradition and finances have influenced art through the ages.


The Executioner

A total installation by Ursula Reuter Christiansen. A work that has undergone constant development for almost 50 years.