2021 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 the island of Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm, opened in 1958. In 2009, the museum opened a new branch in Malmö in the south of Sweden, Moderna Museet Malmö. The collections contain contemporary painting, sculpture, photography and art film from 1900 onwards, and in the case of photographs also from around 1840.

Moderna Museet has one of Europe’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art. It includes key works by Pablo Picasso, Ljubov Popova, Salvador Dalí, Meret Oppenheim, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Irving Penn, along with works by contemporary practising artists. Here you can read about the various parts of the collection and its history.

The museum opened in 1958, when was moved from the Nationalmuseum into a former navy drill hall on Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. The current building was completed in 1998, adjoining the old museum premises, and is designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Moderna Museet also opened in Malmö in 2009.

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.

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.

Moderna Museet is a stimulating platform for people and art, 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.

Giacometti – Face to Face
“Giacometti – Face to Face” is the first large-scale retrospective of Alberto Giacometti’s work in Sweden in over twenty years. The exhibition was produced in close collaboration with Fondation Giacometti, Paris. Alberto Giacometti forged a singular path within European Modernism, restlessly seeking a new language for sculpture as a “double of reality”. The exhibition “Giacometti – Face to Face” trails the evolution of Giacometti’s work from post-cubism through surrealism to post-war realism.

Join Nina Blom, art educator, on a tour of the exhibition. We will study works from when Alberto Giacometti was 13 and made his first portrait of his brother Diego, to his late paintings and sculptures, and, of course, the iconic tall bronze figures. Follow curator Jo Widoff on a walk through the exhibition “Giacometti – Face to Face”. We will also meet curator Christian Alandete at Fondation Giacometti in Paris where he presents Giacometti’s library and reconstructed studio.

At the age of twenty-one Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) arrived in Paris to study sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. He participated in the intellectual life of the city, which before the Second World War was a hub for artists and intellectuals from all over the world. The close dialogue with the three writers Georges Bataille, Jean Genet and Samuel Beckett had a particularly strong impact on Giacometti. This exhibition sets out to trace the marks that Giacometti’s encounter with Beckett’s irrational, closed-off worlds, Bataille’s violent opposition to staid conventions and Genet’s reverential depictions of life in the margins of society, left on the artist’s work.

Throughout his artistic career, Giacometti was preoccupied with his own inadequacy when it came to depicting reality. In the 1930s he exhibited his work with the Surrealists but soon went his own way. Instead of looking to abstract art, which dominated Paris at the time, Giacometti cast his gaze further back in time – to prehistoric art and non-Western art objects.

From relatively early on, Giacometti was counted among the major interpreters of the post-war era and today his fragile and strangely elongated figures are associated with the image of a resilient humanity. When working with a model he tried time and again to find a “likeness” between art and what he saw before him, restlessly seeking a new language for sculpture as a “double of reality”. By feeling his way forward with his hands in clay and plaster, he came to change our view of sculpture.

Lea Porsager – Stripped
Consisting of new work, “Stripped” is Lea Porsager’s first major solo show in Sweden. We are in the realm of sculpture – and at the same time somewhere else entirely, with elements such as magnetic prayer wheels, sexualized icons, digital animation, a saggy beanbag, and blades from a windmill cut into slivers. A giant set in motion by amorphous wind, the windmill symbolises the power of human imagination. Can we push our imagination further, to glimpse what is on the other side? Do we have any choice but to try, if we want to transform ourselves and our relation to the world?

The exhibition builds on ideas and motifs from tantric meditation, religious painting, and quantum theory. This is in line with how artists and spirit mediums have used technology and scientific discoveries – such as electricity, magnetism and radioactivity – to link immaterial and physical realms. The mixing of science and esoteric knowledge was a search for the spiritual, and challenged modern reason.

Porsager leaves forms and materials both excited and exhausted: vulnerable and intense states through which we can tune in to more-than-human forces. When world views collide and openings arise between different realities, it might create a potential for new experiences and pleasures – and for other interpretations of what and how we know.

The exhibition is Lea Porsager’s first major solo show in Sweden, and will consist entirely of new works. With an oeuvre that is based in research and spans themes such as mysticism, feminism, and science, Lea Porsager uses a wide array of artistic media and approaches, including sculpture, filmmaking and writing.

Lea Porsager, born 1981, graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, and Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, in 2010. She has had solo exhibitions at venues such as the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Oslo, Kunstverein Göttingen, and The Emily Harvey Foundation in New York. Porsager was part of dOCUMENTA(13) and the 14th Istanbul Biennial.

She is currently working on public commissions in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Her earthwork “Gravitational Ripples” was inaugurated in June 2018 in Stockholm’s Djurgården, commemorating the Swedish lives lost in the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. Porsager is a Ph.D. fellow at Malmö Art Academy and Lund University with her research project “Cunt-splicing Thought-forms — Promiscuous Play with Quantum Physics and Spirituality”. She lives and works in Copenhagen.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye – Fly In League With The Night
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (born 1977) makes figurative paintings based on a variety of source material. Working in oil on canvas or coarse linen, developing a language through mark-making, colour, scale, and composition has been central to the development of her practice. The characters she constructs are suggestions of people created of the artist’s memories and imagination, and influenced by images, drawings, and photographs. The intentionally ambiguous characters seem to exist in a timeless state where the past, present and future converge, and their individual narratives are left to be constructed by the beholders.

A profound interest in paint, its materiality, and how the eye perceives colour informs Yiadom-Boakye’s practice. The poetic titles of her paintings add veritable brush strokes to the canvas. She sees visual art and literature as separate yet intertwined forms of creativity. Along with the visual narratives, each title is intended as a part of the painting, as opposed to an explanation of it.

“Fly In League With The Night” is the artist’s largest retrospective exhibition to date, and includes roughly 80 paintings spanning her entire career, from the graduation show at the Royal Academy Schools to today. The exhibition is produced in close collaboration with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who instead of ordering her works chronologically, has created contexts, moods, and dialogues between works.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye paints with oil on canvas or linen. In this sense, she adheres to a centuries-old tradition that explores the materiality and capacity of painting to create images beyond time and space. In her early studies, she painted from live model, but soon found that rather than the meticulous and slow process of painting actual human beings she wanted the freedom to act in the moment, exploring the potential of colour, composition, light and tone.

The people in Yiadom-Boakye’s works are culled from drawings, photographs, historical paintings, newspaper cuttings and other sources that she collects in scrapbooks. Her paintings are improvised in a conversation between brush, paint and canvas. Themes or subjects can evolve over a day. Finished works are left to mature in the studio for a while, entering into dialogue with new paintings – a method that is reflected in how the artist has composed this exhibition as a rhythmic and dramaturgical flow.

Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm
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.

Since 2009, the museum also has a branch in Malmö. The museum 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 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.

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