Archive for Louisiana


Posted in Art with tags , , , , on August 20, 2014 by telescoper

Yesterday afternoon I skived off the last session of the workshop I’m attending and took the train to the small town of Humlebæk, which is about 35 north of Copenhagen and is the site of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The purpose of my visit was to attend an invitation-only preview of a new installation by Olafur Eliasson called Riverbed. The invitation to this came relatively recently and it was only the coincidence of my being here at this workshop that made it possible for me to attend.

As it turned out, I arrived quite early and the weather was fine, so I took the chance to wander around the sculpture park before the main event. There are many fine works there. This, for example, is by Henry Moore:


This one is by Henri Laurens


And so to Riverbed. This is a large work featuring boulders and gravel, brought all the way from Iceland, which have been used to recreate a section of the landscape of Olafur’s native land. The distinctive colouring and granularity of the raw material produces terrain of a texture that must look very alien to anyone who has never been to Iceland. The installation is contained within a space which is contained within and divided by stark white-painted walls, with rectangular gaps where necessary to let the water through from room to room. These boundaries, with their geometrically precise edges, affect the experience of the naturalistic landscape in a very interesting way. The Riverbed itself may look “natural” but the structures surrounding it constantly remind you that it isn’t. Viewers are permitted to wander through the piece wherever they like and interact however they please, sitting down on a boulder, paddling in the stream or even just watching the other people (which is mainly what I did). I don’t know what’s more interesting, the work itself or the way people behave when inside it!

Here are some pictures I took, just to give you a flavour:


Anyway, after that we adjourned for a drinks reception and a splendid dinner in the Boat House, which part of the Louisiana complex. Being neither an artist nor an art critic I felt a bit of an outsider, but I did get the chance to chat to quite a few interesting people including, by sheer coincidence, a recent graduate of the University of Sussex. The Boat House looks out towards the island of Hven, home of the observatory of Tycho Brahe, so naturally I took the opportunity to drink a toast to his memory:


After that I had to return to Copenhagen to write my talk, as I was on first this morning at 9.30. This afternoon we have a bit of a break before the conference excursion and dinner this evening. The excursion happens to be to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (although we’re all going by bus this time); dinner is in the cafeteria rather than the Boat House, though..

Art in the Afternoon

Posted in Art, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on August 10, 2011 by telescoper

Just a quick blogette to mention that yesterday the workshop participants here in Copenhagen went on an excursion to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is just north of Copenhagen.

This is an extremely interesting museum to visit at any time, not just for the temporary exhibitions which at present include the architecturally-themed Living and some wonderful drawings made by David Hockney using his iPad; the latter almost made me want to go out and buy one.

There’s also a fine permanent collection, including many wonderful  sculptures by Alberto Giacometti :
and several by Henry Moore standing (or rather reclining) in the grounds:

What’s really great about Louisiana though is its relaxed informal atmosphere; kids are encouraged to play around (and sometimes in) the scupltures, there is lots of green space to relax in, and you are welcome even to swim in the sea, although I didn’t because I didn’t have my bathing costume with me. Many consider modern art and its galleries to be a bit pretentious, but that couldn’t be further than the truth for this place. I’ll also add that it was very busy indeed so is obviously extremely popular.

For those of you not so interested in Modern Art (which actually seemed to the case for many of my dining companions last night), there is a strong astronomical connection with this place because it offers a view of the Island of Hven on which Tycho Brahe established a famous observatory Uraniborg.

I’ve been to Louisiana many times but have never taken the short boat trip out to Hven, largely because there’s nothing much of the observatory left. Apparently the locals were squeezed mercilessly for taxes to pay for the running costs of Tycho’s observatory, with the result that by the time Brahe left in 1597 the residents of Hven were thoroughly fed up with him and tore the whole thing down.

The moral is clear of that little story is clear: astronomers need to keep the public on their side!

Now it’s time to start the workshop for today so I’d best be off…