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Jorn, Giacometti & Kusama

Although the Louisiana Collection is in constant flux and development, it of course contains a number of permanent features. Among the most important of these are the Giacometti Gallery, the Asger Jorn Gallery and Kusama’s installation Gleaming Lights of the Souls. They are exhibits of extremely varied qualities that have each earned a very special and – one is tempted to say – almost mythical status. Unavoidable milestones during a visit to Louisiana.

Please note that works from the Celia Ascher donation currently are on view in the Asger Jorn Gallery. The works by Asger Jorn are not accessible until April 21.

The Giacometti Gallery

Alberto Giacometti constitutes a great pillar of the Louisiana Collection. The museum’s very large collection of his original sculptures – large even from an international perspective – functions in an almost miraculous interplay with Bo and Wohlert’s architecture. The Gallery on two floors, which contains most of the major Giacometti figures, was not originally built for the purpose, but it feels as though they have “come home” here.

Alberto Giacometti (1901-66) is considered one of the most influential and significant artists of the twentieth century. He lived and created his art in Switzerland, Italy and France, and although he has been linked to Surrealism, Formalism and Expressionism, he was unmistakably an individual unto himself.

On the way through the North Wing to the Giacometti Gallery, Louisiana guests encounter two important works from his Surrealist period, namely Spoon Woman and Walking Woman. In the Gallery itself, on the other hand (and in the small “sketches” behind glass in the wall by the Children’s Wing), await the more mature Giacometti and the sculptures that appear at once both strangely modern and very, very old-fashioned.

They draw upon a tradition, writes Poul Erik Tøjner in the book Louisiana abc, that goes all the way back to the Etruscans or resemble something that been through the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, thus also creating associations with people in a post- nuclear-war wasteland: “There is therefore something deeply archaic about their presence in a contemporary museum, but at the same time they have a brutally modern expression when it comes to human existence.”

Poul Erik Tøjner calls Giacometti “an apostle of laboriousness” who destroyed one study after another, corrected them, started all over again and again and almost tormented the life of his models – but only rarely gave up: “In his pieces, we can follow the traces of his work, the wounds and scars of battle. This also contributes invariably to the fascination many people feel with Giacometti. We are allowed to see the process.”

The Asger Jorn Gallery

Asger Jorn was a giant of Danish and European post-war art. His output was very extensive, but in the context of Louisiana, Jorn is primarily a painter. 

The museum has owned a number of important works for many years, but it was only after a large donation from Jytte and Dennis Dresing that Louisiana could assemble so distinguished a collection that it justified the establishment of The Asger Jorn Gallery.

Asger Jorn (1914-73) is one of the most important figures in twentieth-century Danish art. He was in every way a boundary-breaking artist – on the international art scene, in the COBRA movement, the Situationist International and much more, including his ideas on the artist’s role in society.

The challenges he addressed for artistic media, the materials themselves, were legendary and lifelong. He worked in and on all known categories of visual art, and he had a special eye for exploding categorizations, if it was at all possible for him.

Asger Jorn knew more about art history than most artists, and the very diverse corpus of his writings as well as his works exhibited the fertile cross-currents and correlations that occupied his thought. He was particularly cross-disciplinary, for example, when he wrote of the entire Nordic folk art coupled with his astoundingly wide reading in the humanities and literature. Sometimes eye-opening and of great importance for the dissemination of art in general; at other times strange, exotic and at the edge of the obscure.

At Louisiana, it is the painter Asger Jorn who is in focus. The museum had owned a number of important works for many years, but thanks to a ground-breaking donation of 11 works from the couple Jytte and Dennis Dresing – given in two stages, in 1999 and 2004 – the museum’s Jorn collection became so substantial that it “demanded” its own permanent exhibition room.

Since then, the museum has been fortunate enough to be able to add three more Jorn works to the collection. They are two oil-on-canvas paintings from the early 1960s, including the major work Etwas bleibt (Something Remains), as well as a so-called modification, Nocturne III, from 1959.


Yayoi Kusama’s Gleaming Lights of the Souls from 2008 is a permanently installed work at the museum.

It is a space of about four by four meters. The walls and ceilings are covered with mirrors; the floor is a reflecting pool; and you stand in the middle of the water on a platform. Hanging from the ceiling are a hundred lamps that resemble glowing ping pong balls. A truly lyrical work of art.