On 20 February, an exhibition of iconic works and how they have influenced contemporary artists opens at Nationalmuseum
in Sweden. One of the exhibitions key questions is why some works of art have become more famous than others? Artists in the exhibition include Marina Abramović, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Nancy Fouts, Mark Karasick, Sara Masüger, Kiki Smith, Yinka Shonibare and Henrik Jonsson.
The 19th century was the great century of the foundation of museums in Europe. Art history was built up via the collections, the museums exhibitions, and the art history handbooks. The works in the Inspiration Iconic Works exhibition emphasise the strong links between art history and contemporary art. More than thirty artists from various parts of the world are participating, to show how they have worked with the great names of Western art such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Georges de la Tour, Vermeer, Velásquez, Goya and also Rodin.
We are quite accustomed with being able to visit museums and art exhibitions during our leisure time. On the other hand however, we rarely think about how the great story of art history has emerged, or on the important role that museums have played in this context. The exhibition reflects on the influence that this long tradition has in todays visual culture, says Susanna Pettersson, Director General of Nationalmuseum and one of the exhibitions curators.
Some of the works of art were created specifically for the exhibition; this includes such work as Ola Kolehmainens photographs of museums and some classics such as Nefertitis head, Sara Masügers interpretation of the Laocoön Group and Mark Karasicks work with Michelangelos drawing as a starting point. In addition, Joseph Kosuth decided to produce a brand new work of art which is based on a painting in the collections of Nationalmuseum. The other works of art are known from previous contexts, such as Jeff Koons Gazing Ball (Mona Lisa) from 2015 and Jake and Dinos Chapmans The Phases of War from 2001. As a part of the exhibition, a dialogue takes place between these and a selection of older works from Nationalmuseums collections.
A comprehensive publication together with a multi-faceted programme activities and showings to the public provide further in-depth perspectives. One example that can be mentioned is a seminar conference with the curators of the exhibition, the authors of the catalogue and some of the artists, which will be arranged on 20 February.
The exhibition is curated by Susanna Pettersson, Director General of Nationalmuseum and James Putnam, Curator, London.
Inspiration Iconic Works is a collaboration between Nationalmuseum and Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki. The exhibition will be on display at Nationalmuseum from 20 February to 17 May, and at Ateneum Art Museum from 18 June to 20 September 2020.