Friday, September 30, 2011

Highlights from Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

I have been wanting to visit this museum ever since I moved to Denmark but was told it is absolutely necessary to visit in conjunction with good weather, as the outdoor aspects are as much a part of the experience as the indoor. Sun has been an elusive character since it disappeared some time after June, so I lucked out last weekend when I happened upon the combination of a toddler-free day and late summer sunshine.

An enjoyable train ride spent reading Murikami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (why not go all the way and overload on modern) and I arrived in the town of Humlebæk on the Zealand coast. Contrary to my earlier assumption, the museum's name has nothing to do with the American state or anything Creole for that matter. It is derived from the name of the villa that housed the original museum. Built and named in 1855, its owner was (un)fortunate enough to be married to three women over the course of his lifetime, all named Louise.

The expansion of the museum beyond the original villa has been a work in progress since the museum's opening in 1958. Referred to as "a masterpiece of Danish modernist architecture" it showcases themes that reverberate through Danish culture and society, like human-scale design, creature comfort, texture and bringing nature inside.

Okay, I'm a little obsessed with stairwells...
 The landscape figures just as prominently as the architecture and a large lawn sloping down to the sea is complemented by a secluded Lake Garden and scattered small, quiet spots to sit and contemplate throughout the grounds.

Taking its cue from New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Louisiana's broad definition of modern art includes architecture, film, design, photography, music and other mediums. Originally, the museum opened with the purpose of showcasing Danish modern art, but it expanded relatively quickly to encompass international art and has since drawn artists whose reputation and renown solidifies its position as a well-respected exhibition venue.

The museum's own permanent collection comprises over 3,000 works of art from such artists as Picasso, Giacometti, Warhol, Calder, and Baselitz.

Giacometti sculptures
At the time of my visit, the museum featured a large exhibit called LIVING that took up the majority of the indoor exhibition space. The last in a series Frontiers of Architecture, this installation explores how we live from both an architectural as well as anthropological perspective. 'Case studies' highlight different themes and development within specific communities, while at the same time exposing broad and overarching concepts in how we live, communicate and create. The exhibit also featured an amazing diversity of mediums, from the recreation of physical structures, to photography, to video, to performance art, to electronic art and more.

Who says kids can't enjoy architecture?
Light cells as interactive art
West 57th, Danish-designed addition to the NYC skyline
Me, as a house.
Equally as impressive was the museum's attention to childrens' experience of modern art. The 'children's wing' was not merely an afterthought, but architecturally interesting and integrated with the rest of the museum. The activities were thoughtful and playful, engaging and educational. As with many of my experiences in Denmark, someone really took some time to consider things from a child's perspective.

Child's representation of their 'dream home'
One way to give your kid a 'modern perspective'
Spectacular weather, a thought-provoking exhibit and one of the most beautiful places I have had the pleasure of wandering through in a while. And finaly, if you're as into food as you are art, be sure to stop by the cafe... Well worth it.