Art in Copenhagen

Those who do not enjoy looking at art are difficult to win over. Though an art museum may seem confining to some, I would recommend roaming through the bustling crowds of art museums in Copenhagen, Denmark. If you get there, do not let your imagination be bound by the walls and halls of the galleries – art allows you to immerse yourself in the mind of another, in different times and cultures. When traveling, visiting art museums is a wonderful way to see through the window of a culture’s past. You can wander through the rows of paintings or sculpture and take on the guise of different characters, imagining what was going on in the artists’ heads. Not solely the symphony of blues or radiant yellow hues on canvas, art is replete with psychological complexity. Copenhagen art museums, I have found, are exceptionally curated, arranged in ways that allow you to observe, reflect, and give you the freedom to delve into sublimity and varied human responses.


Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is centrally planned around its sculpture garden, which holds antique sculptures from ancient cultures around the Mediterranean – mostly Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan, and Greek. It also has an extensive collection of French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, such as Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, and van Gogh.  The architecture is varied, partially neo-classical and partially Venetian renaissance, but each wing is elegant nonetheless. Spend the day in the interior conservatory where paintings that adorn the walls are framed by green climbing vines that also mirror the twists and turns of the writhing, tangled limbs of expertly crafted ancient marble sculptures. If you’re lucky, a string quartet often plays in the courtyard

25_copenhagen_cnt_17aug10_BOne of my very favorite spaces in the world is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art located directly on the shore of the Øresund Sound, a bit north of the city. This museum strikes the rarest of balances between art, architecture, and nature. The three are entrancingly intertwined as modern sculptures, many by Alexander Calder. Drizzled on the picturesque landscape with views that extend across the water to Sweden. The architecture is modernist, horizontal with discrete pavilions and semi-transparent glass at the edge of the cliff. The glass buildings, a mix between ultra-modern and an old villa, feel like a covered path and open into the surroundings, which lightens up the collection, and fit coherently, gently and gracefully into the landscape. At every turn, the sculptures stand at angles that cast striking shadows against the high-ceilinged exhibition room walls. For those of you who are familiar with art, the collection is full of Picasso, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Lucien Freud, Henry Moore, Giacometti, and Andy Warhol. Whether you know the works or not, the Louisiana will undoubtedly impress.

The David Collection is a miraculous spectacle of Middle Eastern art. It is also the largest collection of Islamic art in Scandinavia. As well has this, it has period interiors for its collections of 18th century European art, encompassing paintings, decorative art, and other early Danish modern art. Important since it is more exciting to view art in its place of creation. The 18th century European works hang in a Golden Age Room, which is beautiful, but doesn’t quite measure up in comparison to the medieval ceramics, textiles, and all other media from virtually the entire classical Islamic world, from Spain in the west to India in the east, spanning the period from the 7th to the 19th century. As you peruse, you may feel a bit bewildered by the maze of rooms, but that slight disorientation adds to the thrill of the whole experience. The museum is intimate, the lighting is dim, there is a golden Syrian courtyard, and with all the splendor, the colorful, intricate calligraphy, geometric patterns, and bright, gleaming ornament, you can’t help but feel like you’re inside a jewel.

7cba93b5041925d1bfb069b7636feb0cThe Ordrupgaard Collection is a massive concrete shell made out of black concrete with curved glass windows whose lines complement the curves of the landscaped gardens. It houses primarily Danish fine arts and French art of the 19th and 20th centuries, with a great collection representing Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, and Symbolism, including, most remarkably, Rousseau, Courbet, Manet, and Gauguin. Mirrors are scattered in the park surrounding the museum, which is great fun to play around in, and after you let all of your energy out running with your reflections, there is a charming, cozy garden that is very tranquil to relax in. It’s an unusual mix of new and old – modern and classic, and it’s a nice stop off the beaten track.

Art museums have a way of making me breathe a little more easily yet forget in the next moment how to breathe. I think everyone should have the opportunity to feel that way, to have your breath taken away but be reinvigorated in a second, and these Copenhagen art museums make it awfully easy to experience that.

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