Louisiana

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The highlight of our trip to Copenhagen was our visit to Louisiana, a Modern Art Museum in Humlebæk, a small town about 30 miles north of Copenhagen.

We got the train from the Central station in Copenhagen. We were able to buy a discounted ticket for the museum when we bought our train ticket at the station. The trains, which run from Malmo in Sweden up to Helsingor, leave every 20 minutes until after 11 o’clock at night. The museum only opens at 11 a.m. but stays open until 10 p.m on weekdays (it’s not open on a Monday though). That’s a refreshing change from the UK where everywhere has to shut at 5 p.m. We arrived at Louisiana about half an hour after it opened and stayed until about 6:30. We were able to explore at our own pace without feeling rushed. We could have stayed longer, but we were completely “arted out” by then – there was far too much to take in during one visit.

They have a cafe / restaurant which overlooks the sea and the terrace with works by Alexander Calder. We had a midday meal (dinner in Wigan!) – a really delicious modern take on a Danish buffet, which was quite reasonably priced for Denmark,

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and later on we had a coffee on the terrace. The cafe stays open quite late so you could spend the full day there without going hungry.

The museum has an outstanding collection of modern art, containing around 3000 works displayed in a series of well designed airy, galleries and a sculpture garden. Artists represented in the collection include Picasso, Giacometti, Andy Warhol, Henry Moore, Louise Bourgeois, Isama Ngouchi, and Jean Arp. They also have a Children’s Wing, which provides an ‘art playground’ for younger visitors.

It’s a stunning location, overlooking the Øresund, and, on a clear day Sweden is clearly visible, although we overheard one Danish visitor mention that the Danes try to ignore it!

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Photography is allowed both inside and outside the museum except for the special exhibitions.

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Louisiana was originally the site of a summer house owned by Alexander Brun, "Master of the Royal Hunt", who named it after his three wives, who were all named Louise (there must be an interesting story there!). The museum was created in 1958 by Knud W. Jensen, who has extended the site gradually.

The original villa is still there and is used as the entrance and gallery space. But it has been gradually extended over the years. The extensions have all been built in a way sympathetic to the site  The galleries have been built in a minimalist, modernist style. The architects have worked with the topography of the site well – it slopes down to the sea in front of the villa and down to a man-made lake or inlet at the back.

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From the gardens you hardly notice the buildings (other than the villa), they’re only one storey high. But working with the slopes thy have built downwards, in some cases creating large exhibition spaces. One outstanding example is the large room which displays some of Giacometti’s works which has a large window overlooking the lake. My picture, below, doesn’t really do it justice.

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Once inside, the galleries seem to go on forever. One of the later additions, the East wing, is entirely underground and links with the other galleries to form a complete circle.

There’s more information about the architecture here.

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There were two exhibitions taking place during our visit.

Pink Caviar (which finished on 19 August)

a bold and vivid display, presenting more than 50 artists and more than 150 artworks in all genres; video, photography, installation, sculpture, and painting. Ranging from major works by established and renowned artists as a.o. Roni Horn, Erwin Wurm, Thomas Demand and Wolfgang Tillmans to young and emerging talents from many parts of the world.

and an exhibition on architecture, “New Nordic” which

sets out to explore if certain specífic ‘Nordic’ features reflect in architecture  and if so how these manifest. New Nordic is the story of how we currently build in the Nordic region and express and organise ourselves and our community.

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Louisiana reminded me of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s grounds were not as extensive, and it’s not just devoted to sculpture (and it stays open later!!) but the atmosphere and ethos and extensive range of works on display were very much like the YSP.

This has been quite a long post about the museum and I haven’t written much about the art and the exhibitions. I’ think that they’ll be the subject of a few more write ups.

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