COPENHAGEN.- Statens Museum for Kunst presents today Wilhelm Freddie. Stick the fork in your eye! Scandal-ridden provocateur, notorious self-promoter and visionary artist, Wilhelm Freddie is a unique figure in Danish art. He was an artist who was in stubborn opposition to the etiquette of the age and was inspired by the new trends of the international art scene. He became one of the major surrealists in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. The major exhibition at Statens Museum for Kunst celebrates the centenary of his birth. The exhibition includes more than 150 works including reproductions of many now lost works, presenting all aspects of his oeuvre and giving a picture of an artist whose original concern with mans existence still seems fresh and flippant.
Controversial and revolutionary - Wilhelm Freddie (1909-95) stands out among all other artists as the enfant terrible of Danish art. His project from start to finish was experimentation, which included a permanent self-willed confrontation with the narrow-mindedness and double morality of his time, resulting in scandals, confiscations of his works, censorship and two prison sentences on top of it all. Not that experimentation and provocation were ever an end in themselves. Behind all his original and highly skilled exploration of artistic possibilities as well as his constant focus on the theme of erotic desire and human sexuality lay Freddies ambition to address his viewer directly. Just like the works of his surrealist colleagues, Freddies art was founded on an idealistic quest to create art which could liberate the innermost nature of man and whose undermining power could awake the viewer from his deep slumber and revolutionise the social realities.
A unique talent - Wilhelm Freddie is indubitably the most outstanding Scandinavian surrealist artist. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he quickly turned towards the new trends of the international art scene. He worked very closely with the surrealist movement from around 1930, with artists like André Breton and Salvador Dalí, and soon became a leading figure at exhibitions in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. The whole range of Freddies surrealism is on show at Statens Museum for Kunst, which although owing its inspiration to outside influences was unmistakably his own.
Forgotten aspects are revealed - Art historians have had a tendency to treat Wilhelm Freddie as indeed the rest of surrealism from a very traditional point of view and with a special focus on the painterly production from his earliest works to the later ones. Statens Museum for Kunst has naturally enough also collected a wide-ranging selection of Freddies paintings, collages, and sculptures from the whole of his production, including both decidedly major works and rarely seen works from private collections. The Museums new departure is to turn its attention to the lesser known aspects of Freddies art, like his films, happenings, dress design and window displays. There are also a number of reproductions of lost works, and in the first part of the exhibition period the Museum will stage Freddies ballet The Triumph of Love for the first time since 1940. In this way the exhibition provides a complete picture of an artist who was in constant opposition. He was an artist who in many respects was before his time in the way he challenged the various art forms and set them up against each other and mixed their specific characteristics.
Surrealist set design - The exhibition sets itself apart from traditional retrospective views in that it consciously avoids a typical chronological hang. The many works are instead presented in thematic groups composed of works from various periods, illustrating major trends in Freddies work. The staging of the exhibition has been arranged by exhibition architect Elisabeth Topsøe, whose inspiration stems from the surrealists own exhibitions from the 1930s to the 1950s. At this time they experimented with organic forms and spatial convolutions, so-called vaginal architecture as well as other alternative and sensually seductive ways of staging their works. The colour scheme of the exhibition takes its inception in a similar way from the surrealists interest in the physical and corporeal.
Besides a substantial guide, there is an interactive information platform in both exhibition rooms, where the public can explore at their leisure a wealth of material, including that of Wilhelm Freddies archive.
Wilhelm Freddie online - Statens Museum for Kunst is opening a large portal on its internet site together with the exhibition. Here you can go on an interactive exploration of Wilhelm Freddies universe and study Freddies works in depth before and after the visit. You can also see films on and by Freddie, hear old radio interviews, download pod-walks, and experience Freddies works in conjunction with works by other great artists.