We here in Scandinavia have had an unusually long winter – 5 1/2 months to be precise. 5 1/2 months of snow, sleet, rain, cold grey days. This weekend the spell was broken, however. It was sunny at last. A proper spring day with sun and a chill in the air. All day I kept hearing the Beatles refrain in my head , “Here comes the sun . . .”
In honor of the lovely first day of spring we headed to one of our favorite indoor/outdoor spaces – The Lousiania Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.
The museum sits on a bluff overlooking the Öresund Strait and enjoys sweeping lawns with an incredible display of sculpture, trees, flowers, sea breezes. Just visiting the grounds are worth it, but then there is the museum itself. Architecturally, the museum structure and grounds evoke Frank Lloyd Wright and his philosophy of bringing nature into the building. The museum is designed with lots of big windows whose function it is to bring nature inside the museum walls. It is a space that simply makes one feel calm, peaceful and good.
The grounds have sculptures scattered throughout. The sculptures are not placed haphazardly, however. The sculptures are specifically positioned in order to interact with the architecture and nature that surround them. The placements are precise and are designed to allow visitors to enjoy a different experience with each visit depending on the weather and the season.
We would have been happy just enjoying the sun and sea that day, but imagine our surprise when we arrived and discovered that there was a Picasso ceramics exhibit going on. This particular exhibit was named one of the top exhibits to see in 2018 by the New York Times and it does not disappoint.
In fact, it was stunning. One of the things I have always loved about Picasso is that his work is so dynamic and prolific – his work encompasses traditional paintings, the cubists phase, sculpture and then his colorful, whimsical ceramics. There are over 160 pieces on display and a lovely film offered with English subtitles about this particular creative period in Picasso’s life.
Picasso’s interest in ceramics began in the summer of 1946 when he attended an exhibition in Vallauris, France, an area known for making ceramics since Roman times. After WWII, and at at the height of his success, Picasso returned to Vallauris seeking new artistic experiences. The war had worn him down emotionally and he sought new challenges and inspiration artistically. In this last period of his life he began to pick up clay and he immediately began experimenting with the materials, glazing techniques and processes. Apparently, Pcasso loved how unpredictable the firing process was on the clay and he enjoyed the resulting surprise of colors that emerged.
All in all, it is estimated that Picasso produced over 4,000 ceramic objects during this time. It is said that one of the things that inspired him to create ceramics was the desire to put art in the hands and lives of the common man. By turning utility objects like a platter or a water pitcher into an art piece, it allowed art to enter the every day world. So dedicated to the concept of making art available to all, Picasso created a line of work called Edition Picasso which were created specifically to be affordable. Picasso essentially served as the designer and allowed a ceramic workshop in Madoura, France to actually replicate each piece. This was one of the first (if not the first) times in art history that copies were mass produced based on an original work. Picasso’s confidants advised him against this idea warning him that the practice would devalue his other works. Picasso soldiered on with the idea and from 1947 – 1971 he designed over 600 editions for the collection. And while initially affordable, once the artist died, the Edition Picasso ceramics went steadily up in price and did no damage at all to the value of Picasso’s other works.
If you are in the Copenhagen area and are looking for a unique museum experience as well as an outstanding collection of art, I highly recommend the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. And if you are not in the area just now, keep a look out for the Picasso ceramic exhibit coming to a museum near you. You will not be disappointed.