Where I Want to Be: Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

It’s summer, which should be full of travel, the Venice Biennial just passed, and my eyes are looking abroad to see where I would like to be for some art viewing.

Where I Want to Be #1: Stockholm’s Moderna Museet

Sure, the low, long building with its whimsical outdoor structures perhaps looks a bit dated and much like any other museum. But the Moderna Museet has been known for legendary shows (solo exhibitions of Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol and Edward Kienholz in the 1960s; “5 New York Evenings” in 1964 with Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, David Tudor, Yvonne Rainer, Öyvind Fahlström, Merce Cunningham) under Director Pontus Hulten. It’s currently putting up what looks to be another great show, and one I’d love to see: a Clay Ketter retrospective.

Clay Ketter Retrospective, 30 May – 16 August 2009
“Clay Ketter was first acknowledged for his Wall Paintings (1992-99), plasterboards with spackle over screws and joints. They were both strikingly beautiful abstract paintings and a sort of fabricated ready-mades, less finished than the wall they were hung on. Trace Paintings (1995-) is another series of paintings that resemble wall surfaces being redecorated. Traces of wallpaper, shelves and electric wiring evoke a sense of uncertainty in the onlooker as to whether this is a real wall or a painting of a wall.”

I wasn’t familiar with Ketter’s work until I saw it on the Moderna Museet’s website. I love it when I discover an artist who just does really beautiful work! As it happens, the artist is with the same gallery, Sonnabend, that Hulten bought a very important Warhol from in the 60s. Small world, or things coming back around?

The image above is from Ketter’s latest series, Gulf Coast Slabs, taken when the artist travelled with a photographer to Louisiana post-Katrina. Ketter has lived in Sweden for the past twenty years and is considered a Nordic artist, but is American. The image is actually an ariel view of house foundations. Ketter’s work is a beautiful balance of material and painting, of abstraction and the real. There’s a Minimalist aesthetic to his works that makes his ready-made objects poetic. Ah well, I can at least dream of travelling.

Not to mention, if you do happen to be in the area, it makes for a lovely afternoon to stroll past the National Gallery and bridge over to Skeppsholmen where the Moderna Museet is, surronded by museums and park space. Swedish summer days are cool, especially beneath the trees, and just on the other side of the bridge is a coffee stand with strong black coffee, cinnamon buns, and, of course, ice cream.

2 thoughts on “Where I Want to Be: Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

Leave a Reply