nordic art from 1500 to present

Malmö Konstmuseum

Malmö Art Museum was founded in 1841 and is housed in the beautiful Malmö Castle together with Malmö Museer. The museum premises are the direct result of a major building renovation completed in 1932, and designed by architect Carl Axel Stoltz in order to make it match visitor- and museum requirements.

With nearly 40,000 works from the 1500s until today, Malmö Art Museum is the custodian of one of the largest art collections in Sweden — an equally humbling and noble undertaking in its own right.

First and foremost the collection consists of fine arts, craft and decorative arts objects from the Nordic countries from the 1500s until today. Secondly, it showcases international art including unique Russian works harking back the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö in 1914.

The modern and contemporary

Herman Gotthardt’s former private art collection forms the basis for the modern and contemporary Scandinavian art in the collection. In 1943 Gotthardt donated 700 works of Scandinavian modernist artists to the museum. Amongst these items were some 300 paintings, sixty odd sculptures along with drawings, pastels, watercolours, gouaches, and graphical works. The donation included important contributions to art such as paintings by Sigrid Hjertén, Isaac Grünewald, Vera Nilsson, Nils Dardel, JF Willumsen, Tora Vega Holmström and Tyko Sallinen.

To date the donation is one of the largest gifts made to an art museum in Sweden. Space permitting, the museum is frequently exhibiting works from Gotthardt’s donation on their premises on a rotational basis, as well as lending the works to other museums nationally and internationally.

Russian art at Malmö Art Museum

The aforementioned Russian import has an interesting provenance, which in turn has been dealt with professionally and delicately. Simply, the art was abandoned at the museum when WW1 broke out in 1914. After the war, the Museum felt compelled to return the art to their rightful owners. To a great extent the staff succeeded with this unenviable job. However, the museum purchased some of the remainder, some it received as gifts, and yet other pieces never managed to find their way back to their owners due to these individuals having disappeared or died during the war. In the Russian collection you find paintings by the likes of Aleksandr Golovin, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Valentin Serov and Pavel Kuznetsov.

Please note that 2-3 of the Russian works are always to find on permanent public display, whereas more of the works sometimes reappear centre stage in temporary exhibitions such as ‘Baltic Reflections’ (11 October 2014 – 19 April 2015).

Swedish art at Malmö Konstmuseum

Over the years, Malmö Art Museum has enjoyed substantial donations from individual artists. These include Ester Almqvist, Carl Fredrik Hill, Torsten Andersson, Barbro Bäckström, Gunnar Norrman and Max Walter Svanberg.

Art in its present and historical context

In addition, Malmö Art Museum, offers an important collection of decorative arts and furniture. The permanent exhibition from 1500 to now is neatly curated into a walk through time and space. Not only does it account for the stylistic transitions through the ages, it also contextualises paintings when seen in situ with furniture from the same period. That way it is not divorcing the items from their history and their respective art movements.

It ranges from the Renaissance reconsideration of ancient ideals and intellectual achievements, to Baroque extravaganza and profusion. Then there’s the enlightenment along with Rococo and its soft furnishings, followed by a return of classicism. This particular part of the permanent exhibition displays some of the most important paintings and objects in the museum’s collection, including portraits of the rococo painter Alexander Roslin, Carl Fredrik Hill’s famous landscapes from the 1870s. There’s even self-portraits by the Matisse student Sigrid Hjertén, and today’s young contemporary artists.

Temporary exhibitions

Every year Malmö Art Museum arranges approximately ten temporary exhibitions alongside its permanent exhibition. To find out more please visit the official museum website.


Image credits:
Images by courtesy of the museum with and on behalf of the originator(s).

Top:’The Nordic model’ (Den nordiska modellen® 2013. Photography © Matso Pamucina/Malmö Konstmuseum.

‘Right image 1: The exhibition Baltic Reflections, 2014–2015. Photography © Andreas Nilsson/Malmö Konstmuseum.

Right image 2: The exhibition Baltic Reflections, 2014–2015. Photography © Andreas Nilsson/Malmö Konstmuseum.

Right image 3: Petra Bauer’s installation What Women Want! From the exhibition One’s own voice, 2014. Foto: Foto: Photography © Andreas Nilsson/Malmö Konstmuseum.

Bottom: Carl Fredrik Hill – Maximus Pictor II – From the exhibition Maximus Pictor med Carl Fredrik Hill, 2012. Photography © Andreas Nilsson/Malmö Konstmuseum.