Founded in 1958 by Knud W Jensen, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art was originally created to house only modern Danish art. However, after a few years, the owner decided to expand the collection to include artworks from across the globe, transforming it into an international museum. Over 60 years later, the collection comprises 4,000 works. Pieces range from 1945 to the present day and include a variety of genres with a focus on painting and sculpture. Given the size of the collection, most artworks are in rotating selective presentations, allowing space for exhibitions and for works to be presented in new and exciting ways.
For the Louisiana, it has never been about displaying a linear timeline of modern art as many galleries do. Arguably, they are doing something more captivating by presenting carefully curated groups of works and artistic periods. There is something for everyone here, with works by renowned artists like Alberto Giacometti and Asger Jorn and periods such as European Nouveau Réalisme with Yves Klein, American Pop Art with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, German art with Anselm Kiefer and Georg Baselitz, and video art since the 1990s. The collection also continues to grow with many exciting additions such as pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Philip Guston and David Hockney.
What really makes this gallery stand out is how nature plays a central part in the experience. The museum presents itself as a horizontal and discreet building that fits seamlessly into the landscape. Museum founder Jensen asked the architects Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert to design the museum with the principle idea of connecting the building to its natural surroundings. This is evident through the large glass windows around the museum, which look out onto the lake, woodland and park – even giving some of the indoor sculptures a living and changing background.
Be sure to take a stroll around the sculpture park, which remains open throughout the year. There are 45 sculptures to see and some are easier to spot than others, such as Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure No.5, with the Sound (the strait which forms the border between Denmark and Sweden) as its striking backdrop. The open lawn is a perfect place to have a picnic in the summer or if you want something fancier, there is an excellent restaurant on site with magnificent panoramic views of the Sound.
Remember to bring your swimwear and a towel! To many visitors’ surprise, there is a gorge down to a small, secluded beach, which is accessible to all visitors upon exit. What a way to end the day, being at one with nature with a relaxing dip and views of Sweden in the distance.
The Louisiana makes for a perfect day trip when visiting Denmark’s capital. You can get there easily with a 35-minute train ride from Copenhagen central station. Louisiana serves as a central cultural hub in Denmark. Open until late on Tuesdays-Fridays, it offers a uniquely intimate gallery experience, something you don’t find very often.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark; https://louisiana.dk/en/
By Scarlet Bailey Tait. Scarlet is based in London and specialises in writing about art