Into the collection

17. Jun 2017 - 01. Oct 2017

The exhibition is temporarily closed this week. Opens again Tuesday 30 May.

Most people collect, or have collected. From the childhood joy of adding new stones, shells or licence-plate numbers to an ever-growing accumulation devoid of any goal other than the mere act of collecting, to adult life’s more systematic gathering in of historical material, objects or art.

Stavanger Art Museum has three collections: the finalised private collection of Halvdan Hafsten (1905–1993), the Jan Groth and Steingrim Laursen Collection, and the Permanent Collection. Each year new works are added to the latter two collections: the Groth and Laursen Collection through private purchases, and the Permanent Collection through gifts, deposits and purchases negotiated by the museum’s purchasing committee.

Part of the nature of any collection is that it is defined in relation to the collector’s motivation, preferences and, no least, taste. Public art museums collect on behalf of society. By collecting and making their collections available to the public, museums write art history. It is well-known that the majority of works in most art collections are created by male artists, so also that an ethnocentric perspective has marked the writing of Western art history. Both the selection of works to be exhibited and how they are displayed influence how we understand the history of art. These activities are matters of art policy that bear witness to reigning structures and attitudes about art. A public museum’s purchasing policy should therefore be an object for discussion. But art history is not solely written by collectors, museums and other art institutions. Artists are also deeply involved.

In this exhibition, we present a selection of works that have been added to Stavanger Art Museum’s holdings in recent years. Some have been in the collections for several years yet never been on show before now. Others are new acquisitions. The exhibition title Dive – Into the Collection is inspired by Sandra Vaka Olsen’s series Dive (Skin). In her artistic research on photography, Vaka Olsen takes photos of her own already-existing photographic material and manually manipulates it to create new expressions. It is reasonable to interpret her method as a corrective to Abstract Expressionism’s masculine artist-gesture and use of the female body as both a printing template and paintbrush. In this way, the exhibition’s title invites a deeper exploration of the artworks, their place in our collections and in art history.

Text: Helga Nyman
Curated by: Helga Nyman, Katharina S. Ueland and Elin Lillebråten

Photo: Zofia Kulik, Lady Halina on the Surface (detalj), 1968-71.