I am very excited to be finally collecting my thoughts in this journal on my recent trip to Scandinavia. I will start in Oslo, where my trip began September 1st and will go through some of the amazing venues, the art and design that I saw and the lovely creative people whom I met. If you follow along the future many posts I'll share what the month of traveling around Norway, Sweden and Denmark had in store for me. I began my trip with an unexpected invitation to visit the Henie Onstad Kunstcenter just outside Oslo.
I am always curious to learn about how people begin collecting art, what their first piece was and what they continued looking for. This was not the case with the Henie Onstad Kunstcenter. What lured me first to the art center was its architecture, then of course its art but really the architecture. The venue is a beautiful testament to Norwegian architecture of the 1960s and I'd like to say almost an omen of what was to become a legacy of modern architecture in Norway. In my humble opinion Norwegian architecture firms are leading the path for modern architecture around the world. The National Tourist Route is a perfect example of this but I'll talk about that later.
Sonja Henie and Niels Onstad were very forward thinking when it came to collecting art and their vision for the art center. The center was designed by (at the time) young architects Jon Eikvar and Svein Erik Engebretsen who were chosen from an architecture competition hosted in 1962. The art center began construction in 1966 and opened its doors in 1968 as a location for interdisciplinary activities and permanent home for the art collection.
The Popcorn chair produced in 1968 was a design exclusively for the Henie Onstad Art Center. A Norwegian design by artisan, industrial and furniture designer Sven Ivar Dysthe. Only 300 of these chairs were manufactured. Made out of a molded shell of fiberglass and chrome steel legs, the stackable chair has become a collectors item with only few remaining on the market. A reproduction can be found today at the art center. This new version is made out of plastic and it's not as charming as the textured fiberglass if I may say.
A highlight at the Henie Onstad Art Center is the permanent installation of the Kurt Schwitters collection. Collages, paintings and a replica of his log cabin from the island of Hjertoya are on display. Schwitters was known to call his art Merz, to separate his work from the Dada movement. Merz was more of an idea than the object itself and it entailed the use of everyday objects and added an artistic value to them. The Merzbau or Merz/construction were called the interiors of the spaces he lived in, which he turned into art installations. There are Merzbau known in Hannover, Lysaker and at Ambleside in England.
Many thanks to Milena and Gunhild from HOK for the tour!
During this trip to Oslo, I also visited an exhibition that highlighted Japan’s aesthetic influence in the arts and crafts of the Nordic countries of Scandianvia, read more about it in Japanomania in the North, or learn about a coffee shop that collaborated with an auction house to promote Norwegian design furniture in Fuglen (the bird).