A Glimpse of Swedish Modern Art, Meandering through the Moderna Museet

BY LOUIS ALCORN

The Moderna Museet presents exhibitions of Modern Art and Architecture throughout Sweden. Having visited both Malmö and Stockholm during my travels, I made the effort to stop into the museums at both locations.

In Malmö, I took quite an interest in the art exhibits there, especially the entire upstairs section, dedicated to Niki de Saint Phalle. One of her three dimensional works depicted the dissonance in the air surrounding the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba in when an era of nuclear mutually assured destruction first began during the Cold War. The black paint bleeding out of the background beneath baby dolls and other human figures comes from bags of paint that the artist plastered underneath the outer most layer of paint. Niki would take a rifle and shoot the bags so that they would bleed “like the blood of humans”. The piece depicts a more modern day version of Picasso’s La Guernica, but depicting the dangerous chaos of the Cold War rather than the hardship experienced by those under Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

The larger, more diverse museum in Sweden featured everything from architectural design to videography. I walked through the modern art exhibit first. Of course, it contained the typical canvases covered in spattered paint and those painted completely one color to make some sort of statement or another. One work showed a video screen of a woman rolling around on the ground with her hair soaked in brown paint. After the human paintbrush video, I began to think that the art section was just taking things too far. This was before I had arrived at the room featuring the video projection and canvases created by the sweat and blood of real human beings getting crucified.

Any normal person probably would have turned around and walked out at this point, but I figured that I might as well see everything that the museum had to offer. The next wing of the museum showed a variety of short films by director Yoko Ono. Basically he made a bunch of short poems and then made short films commemorating the process of acting out these poems.

In my experiences at Sweden’s Moderna Mueseet, I basically saw it all. Modern art isn’t for everyone and is intended to challenge today’s social norms and expectations. Overall, the culmination of the exhibits at both locations complemented my travels in Sweden with a beneficial eye-opening experience.

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