November 11, 2015

Paint, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
26 November 2015 - 3 March 2016

Vincent van Gogh
Landscape from Saint-Rémy, 1889
Oil on canvas, 70,5 x 88,5 cm
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

This winter’s exhibition at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek celebrates painting as an art form – directly, openly and stripped of any framing devices and narratives. Quite literally, too: a special range of selected French masterpieces are exhibited without their lovely, heavy golden frames in settings that focus attention on the art itself and on its key quality: its ability to invite contemplation.

Traditionally, frames have served as dividers that set up a boundary between the pictorial space and the space occupied by the spectator. PAINT rips van Gogh, Cézanne, Degas, Courbet, Rousseau, Manet, Sisley and Monet out of their frames. Freed from the clear-cut boundaries provided by the frame, the masterpieces presented in this exhibition take on new and unexpected qualities. A simple, but effective device – and the exhibition makes the most of it by not only giving the paintings plenty of space to breathe, but the visitors, too.

Behind the frame
Without the frames the canvases and their subjects appear exactly as they were when the artists stopped working on them. Their brushstrokes, hatchings and layers of pigment are revealed to us in new ways, unveiling more of the creative process behind the painting. PAINT delves under the skin of nine selected masterpieces, offering rare insights into their hidden aspects; insights of the kind usually reserved for conservators and art historians.

Théodore Rousseau
Thuderstorm over Mont Blanc 1834. 1863-67
Oil on canvas, 143 x 240 cm
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

PAINT prompts contemplation by offering plenty of space, time and quiet calm for the works and visitors alike – thereby allowing the sensuous qualities of each painting to emerge with even greater clarity. Our focus is shifted away from traditional concerns such as chronology, theme and narrative to home in on the basic forms of each work’s appearance and inception. PAINT not only challenges the visitors, but also the Glyptotek institution itself as it asks what is most important in an exhibition context: the perceptions held by art, history, the museum or the visitor?

With the Salon next door
PAINT extends across no less than two floors of the Glyptotek. Things look very different on the third floor, where the Glyptotek’s collection of French art is on display in an all-new temporary rehang. Here you will find pictures still in their frames, densely hung from floor to ceiling, interspersed by small sculptures: just as you would find art presented at the Salons of nineteenth-century France.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark