Norways most important contemporary art museum, Astrup Fearnley Museet
in Oslo, designed by Renzo Piano, opened to the public on 29 September 2012. The museum launched with To Be With Art Is All We Ask, an exhibition with works from the Astrup Fearnley Collection.
The new museum is already being hailed as one of the outstanding new museums worldwide. Located on a landmark site on the edge of the fjord and divided into two halves separated by water, the museum is a spectacular architectural addition to the waterfront, constructed out of wood with a dramatic double curved glass roof.
One building houses the museums permanent collection and the other houses temporary exhibitions, a café and shop. In addition, the museum has its own bathing beach and lies next to a sculpture park stretching along the shores of the fjord. The museum covers an area of 7,000 square metres on the headland of the new waterfront district of Tjuvholmen, and is surrounded by many new galleries, restaurants and a hotel.
To Be With Art Is All We Ask presents a curated exhibition with works from the Collection including some of the worlds most innovative contemporary artists. Amassed over the last thirty years, these works reveal the personal, social and artistic engagement of artists who have broken new ground within the history of art. The exhibition brings together three parallel strands. The first is an in-depth look at the work of certain artists who have an outstanding presence in the Collection, showing the development and coherence of their oeuvres. The second is a chronological mise-en-scène that not only contextualizes the works, but allows the spectator to compare and evaluate the differences and similarities between what each of the artists was doing at the same moment in time. The third strand is the way in which this exhibition tells a story or rather, depending on how one connects the works and connects with them, several perpetually floating, non-linear narratives that have neither beginning nor end. The spectator travels through different thematic zones geopolitics, urbanism, politics, violence, sexuality, religion, identity and memory that reveal social and personal issues through the materials, structure, and semantics of the works.
Viewed together, they present a cosmopolitan vision that spans different cultures and historical periods, exposing the themes that make up our common contemporary experience.