This blogger is a frequent guest at SMK (National Gallery of Denmark).
But I have NEVER seen so many people at the museum as I did last Friday! This was the big season-opening of SMK Fridays and also the opening of Spring’s big exhibition on Anna Ancher. The latter seems like a huge mistake. Not the exhibition itself, of course. I love the paintings.
However, normally SMK keeps their SMK Fridays separated from the main exhibition – to separate free fun from what attracts paying customers, and also to let SMK Fridays exist on their own terms. But not this night.
For God knows what reason SMK has chosen to open the main exhibition for free this night. And since this is also the opening night chaos is due to happen … People everywhere as soon as the doors opens. And an hour-long queue from one end of the entrance hall to the other – and back again.
This picture is actually taken nearly an hour after the opening. People are still queuing …
As a result, I never get anywhere near the opening champagne. These empty glasses are as close as I – and probably 90% of the guests – ever get. (I was arriving late from work, but I doubt it would have made any difference, if I had been there from the very beginning).
Not able to show patience enough to handle the looooong queue, I head for the Sculpture Street and stage area in the centre of the building. On SMK Fridays this is where you can get drinks, food and let action happen … or normally happen.
This night the stage is empty most of the time, as most of the scheduled actions take place in the lecture hall – with a number of seats limited to 140. Meaning more queue. And nothing to do, except eating at the boring stage area. Not much fun with the panorama view either, when darkness has already fallen.
Anyway, Sculpture Street is open as always. I never get tired of the playful lights, beautiful bodies and settings of it all … they are always worth the sight and the knowledge of Antique Greece, you can still learn or repeat to yourself.
No SMK Friday without a workshop! But where is it?!
This time not in the Sculpture Street, presumably. I have to go upstairs to admire the art, which is created by the guests this night. It might be because of the forthcoming Winter break, when children are off school and need somewhere to go during the day, like a museum. But this night it means that guests do not drop by with a drink as they usually do to create spontaneous art.
This is more like a closed party within the party.
However, it has not stopped the guests from creating their own sculptures. I wonder if this is a draft to a future masterpiece?
Now it is my turn to be in a queue.
I have given up on the exhibition of Anna Ancher’s paintings for tonight (queue is too long), but a talk in the lecture hall with headline “Anna Ancher below the surface” is too good to miss. And a beer in line is always a good idea to kill time on a Friday night. Beers are great at SMK Fridays. Cheers!
Inside the lecture room we are about to meet restorer Loa Ludvigsen (left) and art historian Mette Houlberg Rung.
For 30 minutes the two ladies took me into Ancher’s methods to paint, from sketch to masterpiece. Which is not something you can discover every day, since Ancher was known for being very shy about her work in progress, never sharing with her contemporaries.
Anna Ancher lived and worked from 1859-1935. She was married to fellow-artist Michael Ancher, and the couple is a part of the famous Danish “Skagensmalere” (painters from Skagen in North Jutland). But she also travelled and learned from the best artists in Vienna, Berlin, Paris and London.
When you study her life and work, two things become clear: Very few Danish museums – besides from the one in Skagen – have bothered to invest in any of her paintings. And her reputation that she “only paints domestic subjects” does not speak the truth. She produced just as many pictures with landscapes and religious symbols as well.
Both things stating that the artistic milieu in Denmark never acknowledged her as the artist she was at the time. Probably because she was a women and not allowed on the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.
Let’s begin with the well-known.
Anna Ancher does master to play with the light. It actually becomes the motif itself, which is crystal-clear in the picture from the blue living room, where Ancher’s daughter Helga plays.
But she is not afraid to experience with her work and exchange motif in process as she does so. This is shown here – the dress used to be short in sketch, but long in final painting. The restorer has used X-rays to show us both.
Remember that Anna Ancher was not as traditionally schooled as the men of her time. She simply learned from what she saw in Paris and throughout Europe. With an open mind that her traditionally schooled male colleagues could not master.
On this painting from a funeral party you can also see how more details are added on the priest and the garlands on the wall.
As the art historian states, this is also the proof that Ancher has painted and repainted the same picture in new versions to new sale.
Speaking of new versions … I know this is an old trick, but I cannot help it, when I find myself alone in the cloakroom with a lot of mirrors 🙂
Back to business, it is time for the dark side of Ancher. Her painting “Sorrow” is often spoken of as a mistake. But the motif with a naked young woman and her old mother, sitting by a cross in a dark landscape probably has more symbolism in it than contemporaries would admit.
This night Rudersdal Chamber Soloists give it a try. The stage area is finally in use, and I spend half an hour listening. Close to doom.
Before I leave this much (too) crowded SMK Friday, I need to go upstairs. There is more space among the exhibitions on the top floors. And I just love the bridges above Sculpture Street (even if I get lost in finding my way down again …).
I end this post with my own way of playing with light. I am not a as skilful an artist as Anna Ancher, but I do understand her need to let the light show you the motif in a picture. Do you?
If you want to see more free art, SMK Fridays are now open. See when the next bar is open here.
(And so is the exhibition of Anna Ancher, but that is not free).
Hopefully, it will all be a little less crowded next time.