The thought-provoking Gerda Wegener exhibition at Arken Museum of Modern Art in Ishøj, Copenhagen, displays Gerda Wegener’s favorite motif, women. For those who gave seen the Oscar-winning movie the Danish Girl, centering around Gerda and her husband Einar Wegener, this exhibition is a must.
Gerda Wegener (1885-1940) paints erotic, self-assured, modern and graceful women whoe were not afraid to be just that. Gerda celebrated female beauty, coquettishness and flirtation, nudity and roleplay. Her transgender husband, Einar Wegener, whose female alter ego Lili Elbe became the first person in the world to undergo gender reassignment surgery, was her muse and, as Lili, was her favorite motif.
The Arken exhibition also includes examples of Einar Wegener’s landscape paintings. When Einar was Lili, he didn’t paint – that was Einar’s domain, not Lili’s, and where she was Einar wasn’t.
The unusual story of a love between a painter and a muse that transcends gender boundaries is also the subtitle of the current exhibition.
Gerda Wegener was little known in her own country until the film The Danish Girl, starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, was made. Still this extraordinary woman remains one of the most remarkable Danish painters.
Women prefer flirting with men but for the Wegeners, they were just likely to attract female admirers. Wegener’s ambivalent sexuality and the story of her spouse were too difficult for people to relate to in her time. As an artist Gerda was ahead of her time. She provided adverts and artwork for magazines, and did not care about the strict conventions of the Danish art world at the time. She also produced some decidedly erotic art, which she signed with a party mask.
The exhibition provides a unique insight not only into Gerda Wegener’s art, but also her free-spirited nature. She was an erotic human being whose artistic endeavors spoke of a lust for life in all its facets, and she lived out that lust without shame or embarrassment.
Few of Gerda’s paintings are on display in Danish museums, so the Arken exhibition comprises works from private collections. This extensive detective work has resulted in a rich exhibition of Wegener’s work – from throughout her career – but focuses on her paintings of Lili from Paris and Italy.
Arken Museum of Modern Art is in Ishøj, an easy 30-minute journey, on public transport, south of Copenhagen: take S-Trains A or E from Copenhagen Central station to Ishøj station, and bus 128 onwards from there. It has a permanent collection of more than 400 artworks (featuring Ai Weiwei, Grayson Perry and Olafur Eliasson) and is a popular spot for cultural trips; it also features a significant collection of pieces by Damien Hirst.
The name Arken means The Arc, as the building was originally meant to be built on the beach resembling a large ship washed ashore. However, these plans had to be abandoned, and the museum was moved further inland. In 2016 the museum will celebrate its 20th anniversary by redefining the landscape around it, and will be surrounded by water, as was the original plan.
Now, the largest-ever exhibition of Gerda’s work is running until 7 January 2017.
Gerda Wegener Exhibition in Copenhagen, compiled by Admin