In 2008 it became clear that the Moderna Museet Malmö would open as a subsidiary to Stockholm. It would be time to re-fill the old electricity plant building with art.In 1901 architect John Smedberg established a beautiful electricity plant building on Gasverksgatan 22, whose glowing gasholder long insured Malmö residents electricity. Subsequently following the closure of the successful art museum Rooseum, Moderna Museet was approached as new tenants.
The mission to transform the building into a more appropriate museum space went to the award-winning architect firm Tham & Videgård Arkitekter.
The architects chose to establish a new annex - a contemporary addition to the historic building; giving the interior an entirely new spatial order. The construction process took place at full speed to be ready for the inauguration of the Moderna Museet Malmö, on December 26 this year.
In our first presentation of Moderna Museet’s collection, we have chosen to focus on the 60s. A time in which the art is characterized by a drive to approach a reality outside the gallery space and to a greater extent fuse with life itself. Here we meet Robert Rauschenberg’s famous goat, Monogram, on the threshold into a new era where the concept of art widens and where high and low, kitsch and fine culture, are mixed with both seriousness and play.
Artists like Andy Warhol, Marie-Louise Ekman and Claes Oldenburg seeks inspiration in an everyday life that more than ever before is pervaded by media’s image flow and the growth of a consumerist society. Here a Filet mignon is presented in the form of a poorly painted plaster and plastic sculpture, and repeated reproductions of Marilyn Monroe stands alongside of Campbells soup cans, as reversed portraits of the mass as a subject.
The 60s is an era of glossy and shiny surfaces, big cars and Hollywoodesque glamour, but also of military arms race, fast food and the beginning of a stunning uniformity. While Öyvind Fahlström draws the play rules of the new world order and the power struggle between the players of the game, artists like Lena Svedberg and Lena Cronqvist portraits the seamy side of the consumer society - the alienation, seclusion, anxiety.
The 60s is also a period we associate with a minimalistic idiom. As a reaction against the emotionally loaded painting of abstract expressionism, artists like Donald Judd wants to break free from the canvas, move out in the room and cleanse the art object of a pre-constructed meaning. To depersonalise the creative process he uses industrially produced and standardised materials such as plywood and galvanized steel. His colleague Eva Hesse also explores a reduced aesthetic, but charges her abstract objects with an elusive and multifaceted, bodily presence. The awareness of the regenerating drives and effects of a patriarchal order increases during this period of time and we see how works by Yayoi Kusamas gets covered by some kind of virus like, phallic growth.
In year 1958, Moderna Museet opens it’s doors for the first time and develops during the 60s into a bubbling, experimental and international meeting place for art, film, dance, poetry and music. Many still remember groundbreaking exhibitions such as Movement in Art and Niki de Saint Phalles, PO Ultvedts and Jan Tinguelys She, where the visitors were invited into the womb of a 25 meter long female figure. It was also during these years that The Museum of our Wishes presented works that one wished would be part of Moderna Museet’s collection. The exhibition led to a one time grant of five million Swedish kronor and ultimately to a crucial step in the development of Moderna Museet.
Here in Malmö we have chosen, for the first presentation of the Moderna Museet collection to highlight the 60s multi-faceted appearance. This period of time is strongly represented in Moderna Museet’s collection and the decade constitutes an important period in the origin of Moderna Museet. It’s also interesting how strongly the art during this period of time connects to our own time. The media and consumerist society, which rooted during the 60s, has today reached a global level where we no longer can talk about its inside and outside. We have all become actors in a globalised economy where our perception of ourselves and the world around us is dominated by virtual images and representations.