Louisiana

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM

On a cold December morning we headed to the beautiful Louisiana Museum of Modern Art - 40 kilometres north of Copenhagen - which founded in 1958 by Knud W. Jensen, has over the years gained a reputation as a museum in touch, one that is keenly able to reflect the spirit of the contemporary art world.

It was founded as a space where Danes could see modern art, which up until 1958 had no special place in the Danish museums. In the decades that have followed, through his intensive exhibition activities, Jensen has been instrumental in teaching the Danish people to truly look at art. This he has managed to achieve by employing his “sauna principle”, by dividing the exhibitions into areas of "hot and cold", the "hot" artists being well known - the great modern classics - driving traffic to the museum, whilst giving opportunity to the "cold" and less easily accessible artists to be seen. Even to this day a trip to Louisiana will mean that you can always be sure to see refreshing and innovative contemporary art as well as modern classics - this is achieved by their impressive permanent collection of over 3000 works, as well as the between 8 and 12 special exhibitions annually.

The buildings in which the museum are housed in are also considered a work of art, albeit an architectural work of art within Danish modernist architecture. In the balanced style of the late 1950s modernism, the museum presents itself as an understated network of buildings that fit gracefully and intimately into the landscape. Louisiana has expanded considerably and organically since opening in 1958. All seven of the extensions and alterations have been executed by the architects Bo and Wohlert - supplemented by architect Claus Wohlert on the projects from the East Wing onwards. It has rather admirably been possible to maintain the original plan and then gradually fit the ever growing Louisiana perfectly into the previous buildings and terrain. Giving the museum the appearance as an integrated whole in which we witness the interplay between architecture and nature - it is this interplay that especially resonated with us on our recent visit.

In 2012, as a way to further the development of the museum as a cultural platform, Louisiana Channel was launched. A non-profit website based at Louisiana, it was launched as a "a dynamic platform and an inspiring venue for experiences, information and understanding". The dedicated team at the museum supply art and culture films to the Channel, thereby bringing its events to a wider audience with the aim of sparking the interest and holding the attention of a new generation.

Within their impressive repertoire they also have Louisiana Music, which aims to present classical music in new ways and from new perspectives by using the latest film technology, thereby enabling the experience to be viewed by a wider audience. These classical music videos are an organic broadening of the museum's concert program lifting the determinate interplay between Louisiana and its world-class musicians, thus reaching beyond the museum's concert hall and out into the wider world. Having served for many years as a haven for international musicians specialising in chamber music, Louisiana has managed to create a special relationship of trust and belonging, a warmth that is reflected within Louisiana Music.

There is also Louisiana Publications, throughout the many the years, Louisiana has published everything from catalogues to books, magazines and even booklets, making them one of the largest art publishers in Denmark. One of our personal favourites is the collaboration between the artist Yayoi Kusama and the museum - an illustrated edition of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Little Mermaid using Kusama's Love Forever series from 2004-2007.

As a private museum that receives some support from the state, they generate the rest of their funding through their own earnings and sponsorships. Their impressive growth and success can be attributed to the tireless effort and innovative approaches used to continuously come up with new and interesting ways to bring this modern and forward thinking museum - with its enviable art, culture and wonderfully inspiring milieu - to both the Danes and the rest of the world.

February 2017