The Pillars

The Pillars

National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design Norway

View of The Pillars, National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design Norway, Oslo, 2023. Cy Twombly, Untitled (Funerary Box for a Lime Green Python), 2002, and Olafur Eliasson, Reality Mosaic, 2018. Photo: National Museum/Annar Bjørgli.

November 28, 2023
The Pillars
November 4, 2023–ongoing
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design
Brynjulf Bulls plass 3
0250 Oslo

The Norwegian National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, is pleased to present its second exhibition of works selected from the Fredriksen Family Collection. The exhibition is shown in a dedicated gallery space within the museum, The Pillars. The Fredriksen Family Collection expands the museum’s narratives about the present and our recent past, offering a contrast to the museum’s presentation of its own collection. 

The works selected by curator Geir Haraldseth kickstart a conversation of how we perceive each other, art, an exhibition, and the relationship between culture and nature. The works on display are made from a variety of materials, each with their own histories and qualities. The first work, Human Nature (1983) by Bruce Nauman, is made of neon light tubes, the kind often used to promote products and services, while the second work, Reality Mosaic (2018), a large colourful lamp by Olafur Eliasson, illuminates the Pillars, the artworks, and the people in the room. Cy Twombly’s bronze sculpture, Untitled (Funerary Box for a Lime Green Python) from 2002, is based on an earlier version made from palm-leaf fans, wire, and a wooden box, whereas for fifty years, Carmen Herrera’s Pavanne existed as nothing more than a sketch, until it was realized in 2017. Ruth Asawa, who went to the influential Black Mountain College a few years before Twombly, uses metal wire, a simple and cheap material, to construct her hanging looped-wire sculptures. Asawa’s material choice stands in contrast to the pure gold used in Double Mobius (v.2) (2009/2018), a work by Roni Horn, which is itself a doubling of two intertwining gold bands. The oldest material in the room is found in Margeurite Humeau’s limestone sculpture Venus of Frasassi, A 10-Year-Old Female Human Has Ingested a Rabbit’s Brain (2018), whose form points back in time – to a 20,000-year-old Venus figurine found in Italy – and holds references to recent archaeological theories on the ingestion of animal brains to provide a trip to another dimension by female shamans.  

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s painting Kasbah (2008) also holds direct references, this time to another work, namely Édouard Manet’s Olympia. Whereas Manet depicts Olympia reclining naked on a chaise longue with a maid by her side, Yiadom-Boakaye presents her figure in solitude, painted with energetic and swift brushstrokes. Robert Longo’s Untitled (No Threat) (2018) is a huge photo-realistic charcoal drawing of a warning sign with the words “THERE IS NO THREAT”. Unlike Nauman’s neon sign, Longo’s lights don’t flash. Even so, they trigger a sense of unease. Bridget Riley’s painting Release (1964) challenges our sense of sight and optical comprehension using a limited range of colours. The last work, carved from pink marble, is the sculpture Untitled (2004) by Louise Bourgeois. It depicts two hands and might allude to the hands that create the artwork. Here they are interlinked with the backs of the hands facing each other. 

Two works are retained from the previous exhibition in The Pillars: Carmen Herrera’s blue aluminium sculpture Pavanne and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s painting Kasbah. All the other works are on show for the first time in the museum.

The Fredriksen Family Collection 
The Fredriksen Family Collection is dedicated to Inger Katharina Astrup Fredriksen (1950–2006). The artworks expand the museum’s narratives about the present and our recent past, offering a contrast to the museum’s own collection. The artworks span roughly a century, from the 1920s to the present, and are made by artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Lee Krasner, Philip Guston, and Kerry James Marshall among many others. The Fredriksen Family Collection has been constantly evolving since the purchase of the first works in 2018. 

The Pillars 
The Fredriksen Family Collection forms the basis for the National Museum’s exhibition series in the dedicated gallery space called The Pillars. Designed by 2050+, the flexible exhibition architecture allows for a series of exhibitions to be displayed with different layouts, colours, and expressions, yet with a recognizable identity and with minimal waste from the exhibition production. The light design is by Zenisk. 

The National Museum 
The Norwegian National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design is the largest art museum in the Nordic countries. The collection, which contains 400,000 objects ranging from antiquity to the present day, includes paintings, sculpture, drawings, textiles, furniture, and architectural models. The new museum building opened in June 2022. At the National Museum visitors can experience a comprehensive collection presentation of around 6,500 works, as well as a varied programme of temporary exhibitions and events. 

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National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design Norway
November 28, 2023

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