Palle Nielsen, Komposition over Jeremias klagesange, II, 22, 1957

New exhibition

Period: 17 September – 17 January 2016

In the exhibition you could take a journey back to the post-war years, an era scarred by the trauma of World War II and overshadowed by the looming threat of all-devastating nuclear war.

Admission: DKK 55. (Under 27: DKK 45)

Rising from Darkness

Exhibition run: 17 September – 17 January 2016

In the exhibition you could join us for an emotional rollercoaster ride through the post-war years. The exhibition showed works of art from an era where life was overshadowed by the horrors of World War II, by nuclear armament and by the bleak outlook of the Cold War. Here we presented twelve artists who gave voice to their age: they set out to portray the widespread sense of anxiety, fear and loneliness.

Just think of how tenuous our situation is, we live in perpetual danger – all it takes is for some mad idiot to push a button, and then everything will be blown up. Svend Wiig-Hansen. Information, 1958

The artists called out a warning in their works, showing that humanity’s existence was in danger. They wanted to show us that change was necessary in order to prevent humanity’s destruction. Mankind must rise out of darkness.

Faith in humanity

At the exhibition you would find a wide range of powerful art by Palle Nielsen, Svend Wiig-Hansen, Dan Sterup-Hansen, Henry Heerup, Jane Muus and others. Working with fine-art prints as their chosen medium, these artists take their starting point in the political events and realities of their age, depicting the dark times in which they live. Even so, the stories they tell differ greatly: from reflections on violence, war and destruction to scenes from everyday life and images of human compassion and community.


I must, I feel, report on what I see, and on the fact that what I see is the complete impossibility of our situation. In recognising this situation some hope may be found. – Palle Nielsen. Information, 1958

Palle Nielsen’s Orpheus and Eurydice, an extensive series of fine-art prints, is one of the highlights of the exhibitions. In this series Palle Nielsen offers his take on the Greek myth about Orpheus and his desperate search for his beloved Eurydice. He portrays Orpheus as a modern man, clad in contemporary garb, travelling through a war-torn city that is partly inspired by Copenhagen.

Palle Nielsen’s narrative can be seen as a protest against the conflicts he sees in the world. Orpheus stands up and fights – against evil and death itself – even though the battle may seem impossible and already lost.

© Svend Wiig Hansen, De søgende, 1958

The fear of doom

Svend Wiig Hansen’s art also speaks about the fear of doom and disaster. A poignant example is provided by The Seekers from 1958, which shows five figures aimlessly ambling though a bleak landscape.

In this work Svend Wiig Hansen portrays human hopelessness amidst barren rocks. A landscape where there is nothing left to find – a place where disaster has already struck.

The exhibition Rising from Darkness was on at the SMK from 17 September – 17 January.

Stories from the conservator

Read about the conservators challanges with a "lonely lady".

About the collection of Graphic Art

The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

The exhibition presented a part of the SMK collection of art on papir from 1400s to modern day.

Sponsors the exhibition
'Rising from Darkness'