Exhibitions Cultural exchange Brazil

Norwegian collection heads south for the winter

More than 200 works from the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art have travelled to São Paulo

Jeff Koons, Couple Dots I, 2008

SÃO PAULO. A large collection of contemporary American art on loan from Norway’s Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art opened last week at the São Paulo Biennial pavilion. The exhibition, “In the Name of the Artists” (until 4 December), temporarily brings 219 works to Brazil and is timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the São Paulo Biennial.

A number of artists whose work is featured in the show, including Tom Sachs, Nate Lowman, and Jeff Koons, travelled to Brazil for the opening. “It is important to have artists who bring a certain kind of attention to the event,” said Gunnar Kvaran, the director of the Astrup Fearnley Museum and exhibition curator.

Heitor Martins, the president of the São Paulo Biennial, came up with the idea for the transcontinental endeavour last year after visiting the museum. Timing was one of the most important factors for the show; 2011 is an off year for the biennale and the Norwegian museum is moving to its new Renzo Piano-designed facility in 2012, granting the collection ample time to travel. The private institution was established in 1993 and holds over 500 works amassed by entrepreneur Hans Rasmus Astrup. This is the first time the collection has left Scandinavia and it is its largest public display to date.

The transportation process was “very complex”, said Kvaran, and involved 50 oversized containers arriving by air and sea. Mounting the exhibition also proved a challenge, given the vastness of the three-storey space in São Paulo. Kvaran enlisted two Brazilian architects to help build temporary walls on-site.

Programming for the show includes a lecture series given by leading contemporary artists. Jeff Koons was the first speaker; his discussion on 27 September changed venues in order to accommodate the over 800 people in attendance. Two lectures are planned each month through the exhibition’s run.

“In the Name of the Artists” is sponsored by Iguatemi, a Brazilian company that manages 13 luxury shopping centres.

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