The Pillars

How do you look at art? In this exhibition the works selected from the Fredriksen Family Collection, reference how we look at each other, at art, and the relationship between culture and nature.

  • Opened 4 November 2023
  • The National Museum

The works on display are made from a variety of materials. For Bruce Nauman, the material is neon, the kind often used to promote products and services, while the lamp by Olafur Eliasson illuminates the other artworks and the room. Ruth Asawa uses metal wire, a simple and cheap material compared to the pure gold in the work by Roni Horn.

Cy Twombly’s 2002 bronze sculpture is based on an earlier version made from palm-leaf fans, wire and a wooden box, whereas for fifty years, Carmen Herrera’s Pavanne existed as nothing more than a sketch, until it was realised. Margeurite Humeau’s limestone sculpture points back in time – to a 20,000-year-old Venus figurine found in Italy.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s painting is referencing another, namely Édouard Manet’s Olympia. Whereas Manet depicts Olympia reclining naked on a chaise longue with a maid by her side, Yiadom-Boakaye presents her figure in solitude.

Robert Longo’s work Untitled (No Threat) is a huge photo-realistic drawing of a warning sign with the flashing words “THERE IS NO THREAT”. But unlike Nauman’s neon signs, Longo’s lights don’t actually flash. Even so, they trigger a sense of unease. Bridget Riley’s painting Release challenges our sense of sight and optical comprehension using a limited range of colours.

Olafur Eliasson, «Reality Mosaic», 2018. In the background: Cy Twombly, «Untitled (Funerary Box for a Lime Green Python)», 2002. © Eliasson, Olafur/BONO / © Twombly, Cy/BONO. Courtesy of The Fredriksen Family Collection

Carved from pink marble, the sculpture by Louise Bourgeois depicts two hands. This recurring motif in the artist’s work alludes to the hands that create the artwork. Here they are interlinked with the backs of the hands facing each other.

Two works have been kept from the previous exhibition in The Pillars: Carmen Herrera’s blue aluminium sculpture Pavanne and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s painting Kasbah. All the other works are on show for the first time in the museum.

The Fredriksen Family Collection

The Fredriksen Family Collection is dedicated to Inger Katharina Astrup Fredriksen (1950–2006). The artworks expand the museum’s narratives about the present and our recent past, while the room as a whole with its unique exhibition architecture offers a contrast to the museum’s collection presentation.

The Fredriksen Family Collection has been constantly evolving since the purchase of the first works in 2018. The collection forms the basis for the National Museum’s exhibition series in The Pillars.