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Ellen Myrgård met with Kulturhusets chief of art Marianne Lindberg de Geer and got the inside track at the exhibition “Barockt”

3 min read

Kulturhuset and National museum started a collaboration based on the question: What similarities can we find between the baroque period and our time?

The result is ravishing. “Barockt” is a mixture of historical pieces from the National museum, and contemporary artwork. The exhibition’s purpose is to show connections over time, both in terms of theme and visual expression. The human freedom to find different identities is, for example, one theme that can be discovered in Cindy Sherman’s work as well as in the classic baroque period. Each piece in Gallery 3 depicts the human condition in different ways. The physical body, identity formation, and the human connection to nature have interested both 1600s artists and artists of today. Another topic that permeates the exhibition is the thin line between reality and fiction.

Both the 1600s and our time have been characterized by globalization and technical advancement. The astronomical discoveries and the journeys to the “new world” made the baroque people reevaluate their place in the universe. “The 1600s reflection on death and humans fragile existence is something we often see in todays art as well,” says Marianne Lindberg de Geer, chief of art at Kulturhuset.

Marianne believes in the concept of “art on tour” and hopes the exhibition will attract different types of groups that perhaps wouldn’t go and see Rembrandt at National Museum. This is a chance for visitors to discover old patterns in contemporary art and to understand influences from historical events. Marianne was in favour of a partnership from the beginning although she never expected so many amazing encounters between the artworks. Her favourite piece is John Coplan’s depiction of ageing, a work that portrays a close up of an older mans body. The piece can be related to 1600s sculpture tradition and expresses tenderness for aging.

She also finds the baroque abundance fascinating. “This morning I was considering if I was over doing it with my shirt. And they call me a radical artist!” You get another perspective when you look at the baroque artwork that portrays real abundance. She also believes that the proximity to death brings this to mind. “My love for my husband grows as we age. Before, I would complain about his big belly, now I value everything about him. I can recognise myself in my baroque colleagues, nothing last forever and you should never take each other for granted. It’s interesting to see that themes of transience of life and drama can be found in our contemporary artists as well”.

New similarities in both symbolism and details where discovered when the pieces where hung next to each other in the gallery. The meeting between public art and contemporary truly creates artistic experimentation at it’s best.