2013-14 Exhibition review of Stockholm Museum of Modern Art, Sweden

Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Museet) is a state museum for modern and contemporary art located on Skeppsholmen island, a setting of natural beauty. Opened in 1958, the building was designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. In 2009, the museum opened a new branch in Malmö in the south of Sweden, Moderna Museet Malmö.

Moderna Museet is a state museum with a national mandate for modern and contemporary art. The collection is at the forefront of its kind in Europe. The museum is a meeting place for people and art with a strong foundation in society and the world at large. With its world-class programme of exhibitions, collection-based projects and educational activities, Moderna Museet has substantial local presence and international reach. The exchange with other art institutions around the world is extensive.

The extraordinary power of art is our lifeblood. Art arises in and reflects its own time. It enables questions that generate new perspectives; artists are an enormous force and stimulate broader creativity. Moderna Museet champion art because it forges new paths and enables a reflective view of both history and the present.

Moderna Museet wasa stimulating platform for people and art, to be a vibrant, open, and dynamic museum that exists as a spirit, one that offers audiences elevant, engaging, and direct ways of encountering art on equal terms. Moderna Museet inspire, and create space for new ideas by being a stimulating platform that makes world-class art accessible to a broad audience. We set new standards for art museums worldwide.

Moderna Museet collect, preserve, display, and mediate modern and contemporary art. Moderna Museet manage our cultural heritage based on the highest standards of excellence and generate research that leads to high-quality international collaborations and recognition. Moderna Museet is a leading institution within our field and we believe in sharing our knowledge.

Moderna Museet’s collection, research, exhibitions, mediation, and communication must complement and fertilize each other; these activities cannot stand alone. Moderna Museet define ourselves on the basis of the contexts in which we are involved. Our aim to make the greatest art available to as many people as possible must rest on sustainable practices that take into account environmental and social impacts. Moderna Museet must be driven by the courage to experiment, dare to push boundaries and take new paths in the way we manage our tasks.

Pop Art Design
“Pop Art” was the controversial subject of a symposium held on 13 December, 1962, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Artists in the UK and the USA had been challenging established traditions and hierarchical structures ever since the 1950s, with a new aesthetics, culled from the life and people around them, from mass and popular culture. The time of birth for the term “pop” in relation to art can be specified almost to the day. Today, pop art is regarded as the most influential post-war art movement, and its images continue to inform our understanding of cultural identity. Those who became known as pop artists found their subject matter in everyday life, pictures of celebrities and the mass media, and in advertising, symbols and logotypes created by designers. The imagery and strategies of pop art, in turn, served as inspiration to many designers.

Pop Art Design explores the dialogue that arose between the two disciplines. The exhibition covers art and design objects from the early 1950s to the early 1970s, and features some 80 works of art and as many design objects, films and documentary photographs. Works by Peter Blake, Judy Chicago, Öyvind Fahlström, Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein, Martial Raysse, Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol are shown together with design objects by Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, Verner Panton, Carla Scolari, Ettore Sottsass, Studio 65, Studio DA, Superstudio and others.

Gabriel Orozco – Natural motion
Gabriel Orozco, was born in Mexico in 1962 and lives in Paris, New York and Mexico City. He is one of the most widely recognised artists of his generation but has not been shown in the Nordic countries until now. Orozco’s reputation has been growing steadily since the late-1980s, and his oeuvre paved the way for a new form of conceptualism that embraces both deep contemplation and precise craftsmanship.

In Moderna Museet’s ambition to feature art from beyond the Western mainstream, Gabriel Orozco is a key figure to understanding the contemporary world. Regardless of medium – be it sculpture, photography, painting or installation – his works are based on the place where he dwells, sometimes in apparent improvisations, but often serially over long periods of time.

A ground-breaking work, La DS from 1993 (a radically compressed Citroën car) is shown in a new version here, and a 15 metre long whale skeleton, meticulously drawn in black graphite, sails into the exhibition space as a reminder of the transience of life. The artist alternates inimitably between the momentary and the eternal, sometimes within the same group of works.

Georges Adéagbo – La naissance de stockholm..! / The birth of stockholm..!
In Georges Adéagbo’s new work for Moderna Museet, he creates a collage of events and individuals, where history, philosophy, politics and religion are recurring themes. Jesus, Queen Christina, René Descartes and Okwui Enwezor are all included in his installation.

Georges Adéagbo, born 1942 in Cotonou, Benin, creates site-specific installations where news cuttings, posters, books, postcards, clothes and his own handwritten texts are interwoven with sculptures and paintings from Benin into complex three-dimensional collages.

Adéagbo’s work has been shown internationally since the 1990s, and especially since his participation in the Venice Biennale in 1999. He bases his work on the city that has invited him, exploring and examining its architecture, history, culture and the myriad of other aspects that make up the identity of a place. Through chains of association, autobiographical references and cultural translation he creates what has been called an ‘archaeology of knowledge’, giving rise to new narratives. By creating new contexts and meanings, Adéagbo changes our habitual way of seeing the world.

Nina Canell – Mid-sentence
Mid-Sentence at Moderna Museet is Nina Canell’s first solo exhibition in Sweden. She has previously exhibited at a number of prominent international museums and institutions. Canell’s works generally consist of materials that are normally used for specific purposes – such as nails, electricity, air, water, chewing gum and sound. In this exhibition, they trigger associations and encourage us to think of a place where something can be shared, altered or set off in an unexpected direction.

Nina Canell’s works sometimes resemble experiments in physics or chemistry. And yet, they are entirely different. Works of art are not useful in the same way as scientific experiments usually are. Instead, they are poetic, and sometimes beautiful to look at. Magical Magnetism and Mysterious Clouds features a few of the works from the exhibition Nina Canell: Mid-Sentence in a playful and light-hearted manner.

Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm
The Stockholm Museum of Modern Art is a state administrative authority under the Ministry of Culture, and has, according to its instructions, the task of collecting, preserving, displaying and communicating 20th and 21st century art in all its forms. Moderna Museet shall promote international contacts through collaboration with institutions outside Sweden in the form of touring exhibitions, and shall also be responsible for Swedish participation in international art biennials. The Modern Museum is also a central museum, with national responsibility in its area.

The Moderna Museet was inaugurated in the exercise house on Skeppsholmen, May 9, 1958. The Superintendent of the National Museum, Otte Sköld, reminded in his inaugural speech that as early as 1908 the problem of current local art in the National Museum had been taken seriously and the idea of a new building for these collections. Shortly before his death, Otte Sköld saw for himself the museum realized and his commitment to creating the new museum had been decisive. Together with, among others, the Friends of the Modern Museum, which was founded in 1953, he gave the National Museum’s collection of 20th century art its own home. The museum’s driving superintendents Pontus Hultén and Olle Granathcame with their contacts and initiatives to pursue these intentions in the following decades.

On 14 February, 2004, the museum building was reopened with festivities. In addition to repairs, the opportunity had been taken to improve some of the spaces, partly to make it easier for visitors to move through the museum, and partly to utilise the upper entrance space more adequately. At the same time, the museum’s graphic profile was updated. Another major new feature at the reopening was the introduction of museum hosts – people who have a variety of skills, from life-saving to being able to tell visitors about the works of art in both the permanent and temporary exhibitions. The reason for introducing new hosts was to cater for the large increase in visitor numbers since the admission fee was abolished.

In 1901 architect John Smedberg established a beautiful electricity plant building on Gasverksgatan 22. Nowaday, the mission to transform the building into a more appropriate museum went to the award-winning architect firm Tham & Videgård Hansson Arkitekter. They chose to establish a new annex – a contemporary addition to the historic building. And give the interior an entirely new spatial order.

Moderna Museet’s passion is to mediate art for people. To embrace, challenge, and inspire people and we are driven by an ambition to speak with many. Moderna Museet inclusive and to celebrate diversity by recognizing that people arrive from different starting points. Moderna Museet engage a broader audience through sharing the wonder of art.

Moderna Museet has a long-standing history of hosting international artists for groundbreaking exhibitions, performances, and other presentations, as well as through its world-renowned collection. Experience one of Europe’s foremost collections of art from the twentieth century to today, featuring works by artists including Picasso, Dali, Derkert, and Matisse.

With an art collection comprising more than 130 000 works, Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art) is Sweden’s leading museum for modern and contemporary art. Moderna Museet has one of Europe’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art. The collections contain contemporary painting, sculpture, photography and art film from 1900 onwards, and in the case of photographs also from around 1840.

By combining international masterpieces by artists such as Warhol, Picasso and Dali with temporary exhibitions by prominent artists of the 20th and 21st century, Moderna Museet manages to attract many returning visitors for an ever-changing art experience. The original collection was dominated by Swedish and Nordic art, American art from the 1950’s and 60s, and French-oriented modernism, however, the collection has been extended to include more female artists and to create a more versatile collection with works from all over the world.

The Moderna Museet arranges several large exhibitions in both Stockholm and Malmö each year, a number of medium-sized and smaller exhibitions. In 2012, the museum in Stockholm had around 500,000 visitors and the museum in Malmö over 100,000 visitors.

The Collection
Since the start in 1958, the Museum has been known for its close relationship to artists – Marcel Duchamp, for instance, signed several of his works in Stockholm towards the end of his life, and Andy Warhol had his first solo museum exhibition in Europe at Moderna Museet in 1968.

The Moderna Museet collection now comprises some 6,000 paintings, sculptures and installations, 25,000 watercolours, drawings and prints, 400 art videos and films, and 100,000 photographs. The Collection covers paintings, sculptures, installations, films, videos, drawings and prints by Swedish and international artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, and photography from the 1840s until today.

Thanks to focused collecting initiatives, the Museum has successfully increased the breadth and depth of its collection. Back in 1963, The Museum of Our Wishes was launched, transforming the Museum instantly into a leading European art institution; the government contributed SEK 5 million, for the acquisition of iconic works by Giacomo Balla, Francis Picabia, Kurt Schwitters, Giorgio de Chirico and many others. A few decades ago, the exercise was repeated, but this time spotlighting women artists only – works by Louise Bourgeois, Dorothea Tanning, Judy Chicago, Susan Hiller and others were added to the collection.

Only a fraction of the collection can be on display. But it allows us to explore and reformulate the standard art historical narrative through new insights and constant changes in the exhibition. This includes Moderna Museet Malmö, with its innovative angle on selecting and showing works from the collection since opening in 2009.

A large art collection is the best possible starting point for visual and intellectual experiments. Moderna Museet, as an open and living museum, is constantly rewriting the standard history of modernism by frequently rehanging its collection in radical new ways. Since 2009, the Museum has two locations, Stockholm and Malmö, where innovative selections of works from the collection have been featured regularly since the opening. A few of the iconic works, such as Henri Mattisse’s Moroccan Landscape (Acanthus), Robert Rauchenberg’s Monogram, and Eva Hesse’s sculpture Untitled, are nearly always available for check.