On the farther north point of Denmark, in the peninsula of Jutland, you’ll find a cozy town that has remaind sort of untouched by time.
Skagen is the place that has given name to the famous skagenröra, a sauce made with cream, shrimps, caviar and herbs, that you use on your smörrebröd (open sandwich) or on fish. But this is also the place where many nordic intelectuals and artists came to settle in the end of the 19th century, and got inspired with the light, the sea and the pintoresque architecture of this fishing village.
The Skagen Art Museum is the place where these treasures have been well kept and showcased. It’s an open archive of how art nurtured from the village and then how the village thrived with art. On the outside, the museum is a discreet building with modern lines but fully integrated to the surronding houses. In the inside, beautiful galleries and halls are packed with paintings that portrait the landscapes and people of Skagen.
The artists you’ll see at the museum are very well known in Scandinavian art history, like the Anchers couple and P.S. Krøyen. Some of them were down in Paris studying with the impressionists, which you can tell by observing the qualities of light, stroke and color on the paintings. However, there is an undeniable nordic romanticism in the themes, as they paint the sea, the fishermen, extreme weather conditions, snow and dark forests.
The old galleria arrangement will also transport you to how art was displayed in the old days. The main halls are like massive collages of images that can tell different stories for the viewer, depending how you perceive them. People can stare at these walls for hours, just appreciating so much beauty all together.
There are a couple of rooms dedicated to specific artists that lived permanently in Skagen, and were the ones impulsing this art archive. There is also a room where you can learn about the architecture periods of the town, and understand how the village acquired a new status when the artists came to establish themselves to Skagen. In the upper floor you can see the galleria from above and some paintings from a new perspective. You can also visit a room dedicated to the amazing pottery by Thorvald Bindesbøll, inspired by art-deco motifs. (This exhibition will be on until the 28th of December, hurry!
Lastly, but not less important, is the temporary exhibition hall. It’s a modern complex -again, not perceived from the outside with open spaces and freedom to wander around and see the featured artist, which in this case was J.F. Willumsen with the exhibition I bølgen blå (In the breakers blue), which presented monumental compositions of children in the Danish summer days, with amazing textures and careful detail. It was so interesting to see all the sketching part and the artist’s observation of the children’s anatomy to be able to put a whole scene together.
That’s when you really get to appreciate art and all the work behind! Thank you, curators!
And if you like the impressionism, and the vanguardist styles of the late 19th century, like the art-deco, you should definitely consider visiting the Art Museum in Gothenburg, you’ll be amazed by the Swedish colorists!
Extra tip: When you go to Skagen, travel north to the tip of Jutland, to Grenen, and sink your feet in two seas that meet, Kattegatt and Skagerrak.