National Gallery of Denmark Opens French Art 1900-30 Exhibition

With the official opening of the new display of the collection of older Danish and Nordic art, the National Gallery of Denmark also welcomes audiences to an all-new display of modern French art. The collection includes some of the Gallery’s most famous works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and ceramics by artists such as Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Derain and Matisse.

The National Gallery of Denmark’s splendid collection of French Modernist art forms part of the Gallery’s collection of post-1900 Danish and international art. In many respects, however, it is a separate entity with its very own history and internal logic. To reflect this, the collection has now been given its very own domain and has taken up residence in a sequence of the Gallery’s most beautiful exhibition rooms in the old museum building.

The scope and quality of the collection enables the Gallery to show some of the most important artworks from a period that still stands as one of the most lush and experimental chapters of art history. Here we find unmissable masterpieces by the greatest artists of the era as well as major works by artists who formed part of the radical avant-garde of their day, but who have later fallen into relative obscurity. This range and variety gives the Gallery affords the museum rare opportunities for outlining the artistic bounty that sprang from the Paris art scene in the early 20th century.

Paris – A Capital of the Arts
“French Art 1900-30” focuses on the Paris scene as it appeared during an unusually frenetic and creative period within art history. The central figures are presented, and the connections between various artists are clearly described; these artists moved within the same scenes, worked together, and inspired each other. The more than 160 works on display point to inherent similarities and differences alike. The artists’ experiments with different media and stylistic modes of expression testify to a desire to break with the established boundaries of art, creating new departures and move in different directions. At the same time their works are often variations on classical themes – still lifes, interiors, landscapes, figures, and portraits – that point back to more traditional genres.

Chronology and focus areas
“French Art 1900-30” begins by presenting the Fauvist artists and the story about how they entered the art scene in a flurry of scandal and outrage in 1905. Their hitherto unseen brutal brushstrokes and unbridled used of colour – as exemplified by works by e.g. Derain, Vlaminck, and Braque – marked the emergence of modern art in the new century. New groupings and modes of expression soon followed, and the presentation follows a loosely chronological outline as it traces the advent of Cubism with works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Metzinger. The same room also shows works by artists such as Rouault, Modigliani, and Friesz, artists who, each in their own way, represent alternative directions with their more expressive approach to the canvas and paper. The chronological presentation is interrupted midway by two central exhibition rooms, each of which is devoted to a specific artist: Matisse and Derain. Both artists are strongly represented in the collection, allowing audiences a unique opportunity to experience their work in a wealth of detail.

The history of the collection
The fact that the National Gallery of Denmark is home to this fine collection of modern French art can to a great extent be attributed to a number of far-seeing Danish art collectors who closely followed the galleries, auction houses, and artists’ studios of Paris. One of the themes addressed in “French Art 1900-30” takes the works as the point of departure for relating the history of how the collection was build; a history that reaches its high point in 1928 when Johannes Rump donates his collection of French art to the Gallery – among these one of the world’s finest collection of art by Matisse.

“French Art 1900-30” and its companion “Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900” constitute stage one of the comprehensive efforts to revitalise the collections housed at the National Gallery of Denmark. They will be joined by the new display of “European Art 1300-1800” on 26 November 2011, and 31 March 2012 will see the range of new displays of the Gallery collections completed with “Danish and International Art after 1900”.

The new presentations of the collections are kindly supported by
The A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation and The Obel Family Foundation.

Image: Jean Metzinger (1883 – 1956) Summer 1916 Oil on canvas 74.5 x 55.5 cm

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