Blue. Definitely blue, but mellowed, softened. Light, in feeling and in atmosphere. Rough, but not too rough, not like ‘Rotterdam’ (ROT! DAMN! A Dutch port, violent, dangerous, dock workers) and of course Elke Sommer, a sexy blonde actress from my teens, whom I always associated with Copenhagen (actually she’s German). Well, so much for the fantasies of youth…
But ‘light’ and ‘blue’ weren’t too far off. The Scandinavian countries always fascinated me and now, finally, I was going. Via a non-simultaneous house exchange with a Danish-Iranian couple who stayed here in April, they made it possible for us to visit their city in August.
They home was a penthouse in an international architecture award winning building in a trendy neighborhood called ‘Vesterbro’, rising from the ashes where the Carlsberg beer headquarters formerly was located. A beautiful home and a fascinating area.
We rented bicycles. Definitely the way to go in a large city, well, if the city happens to be as bicycle friendly as Copenhagen. Wonderful to be free to go wherever you like when you like. Our first day while stopped at an intersection, I looked to the left and was stunned to see: “Pierre Bonnard, The Memory of Color’ plastered on the side of a building not far from our place. I knew it was in London a few months earlier. I’d already seen a retrospective at the MOMA in New York in 1998, and another in Paris at the Musée d’Art Moderne in 2006 (there, a long curved wall with all four of the horizontal bath paintings. Unforgettable) so I thought: ‘I’m not flying to London just to see two canvases I haven’t seen before’.
Whoa! Was I ever wrong. The exhibition was presented in the Glyptoteket Museum and at least a third of the works in this show were new to me. Together with Matisse and Diebenkorn, Bonnard holds a warm place in my heart. Once again I was motivated, inspired and thrilled by his use of color and composition.
Although I often regard the texts of curators as needless attachments to an exhibition meant to highlight their own knowledge and writing skills rather than allowing the viewer his/her own visual experience, the catalogue for the show was filled with fascinating information regarding Bonnard’s personal life, habits and working methods.
No, not the state. The Museum of Modern Art, just an hour train ride outside of Copenhagen. Beautifully located on the sea, a large portion of the space was given to a major exhibition of the work of the contemporary Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist. In a career spanning some 30 years, we were treated to the results of her outrageous, funny, visually stunning experiments in video imagery. When you enter an exhibition through a garden adorned with her piece: ‘Used Underwear’, yes, literally 50 or more pairs of men’s and women’s used underwear dangling from the trees around you, it’s certain you are about to experience something different and original.
I’ve a tendency to roll my eyes at this sort of thing, but perhaps because I didn’t know what to expect and owing to my general lightness of mood I was able to let go of judging whether or not this was ‘Serious Art’ and allowed myself to be dazzled, amazed and entertained.
Louisiana is definitely a must for anyone traveling to Copenhagen for the first time or anytime.