Friday, 15 July 2011

Postcards from the Glyptotek

Glyptotek 5I have discovered another gem of a museum: the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek! It was established by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries. This is the same person who donated The Little Mermaid to the City of Copenhagen (see my picture of it from another trip).

The Glyptotek is supposed to be dedicated to sculptures. While there are some fabulous sculptures in the Glyptotek, there are also some wonderful French Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and Danish Golden Age paintings. There are works by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, C├ęzanne, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Rodin.

The paintings are distressed and are housed in a very dark, protective environment: no flash photography or tripods are permitted. Even with my magical, low light-loving Nikon D700 I couldn't get any decent shots under those conditions. However the sculptures are out in the open, awash in bright light, so I'm able to give you a visual commentary on those works.

Carl Jacobsen wanted an impressive building and not just impressive artwork. He succeeded. I'm not sure if I should start by describing the wonderful building or the art it houses; the building does a wonderful job of framing and lighting the artwork.

In the central Winter Garden, large palms grow beneath a large domed ceiling.

Glyptotek 20


The ceiling is a sort of wrought iron and glass affair, letting in a large amount of light, illuminating Kai Nielsen's sculpture Water Mother.

Glyptotek 12


Peering up from the Water Mother, you can see another marble sculpture also bathed in soft light. It is framed in an entrance-way back into the Dahlerup building.

Glyptotek 10


Following the tug of the light, I entered a long narrow gallery where I could see the siren sculpture up close. It was extremely well done and the marble looked silky soft.

Glyptotek 7


I've often remarked at how high a value the Danes place on style, especially architecture and interior design. Not surprisingly, someone had selected just the right colour paint for the walls in this gallery. The combination of the soft, overhead light and the rich blue colour of the walls really set off the white of the marble..

Glyptotek 9


The display in this hall featured several works by Danish artists. One series of work explored a kind of slavery or bondage, such as that which binds a mother to her child.

Glyptotek 6


There are other sculptures on display (after all, this is a glyptotek!). Some of these other works are from the Greek and Roman eras and they are also housed in a suitable environment.

Glyptotek 15

Glyptotek 14


Even in this area, the fabulous building is like a piece of art itself. I consider this ceiling decoration more art than decoration.

Glyptotek 2


The very new Henning Larsen wing is strikingly modern. It has a lot of glass, which allows for a very bright interior. It also has a lot of brick, giving the environment a more structured feel.

Glyptotek 4

Glyptotek 16


Long sight lines frame the artwork in an entirely different way than the older marble works housed in the Dahlerup wing. For example, these long stairs lead up to a Rodin bronze, making it seem as if the cast is trying to get away before you arrive at the top of the stairs.

Glyptotek 18


When you get to the top, you see that there is a doorway right in front of the work and it does indeed look like he is trying to escape the Glyptotek!

Glyptotek 17


There are many Rodin bronzes in the Glyptotek, including Les Bourgeois de Calais (The Burghers of Calais). This piece is the second of the original twelve pieces cast.

Glyptotek 13


Compare this work with another Les Bourgeois de Calais that I came across during a trip to Stanford University a couple of years ago.

Rodin's The Burghers of Calais


I did not know until I saw it again at the Glyptotek, that the Stanford University version was not really the same as the original work. In the Stanford version, the figures all have individual bases. In the original version, in all 12 of the original castings, all the figures connect in one base.

For me, The Glyptotek is about both the art and the building. Even in the basement where there is no art, just a functional area for visitors to store their bags, the light played on the walls in a wonderful way.

Glyptotek 1

You can see more of these photos in a larger format here.

Here are links to all of my posts from this visit:
Faces of Copenhagen
Copenhagen Postcards
Copenhagen Walkabout - Oddities
Postcards from the Bryghus
Postcards from Louisiana MoMA
A Game of Thrones
Postcards from the Glyptotek

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