Scenes from Stockholm: A Groovy Afternoon at the Moderna Museet

Stockholm isn’t a typical stop on the European traveler’s circuit; it is an expensive city even by European standards, and fairly out of the way being so far north. If you do make it to Sweden’s laid back and beautiful capital you will be well rewarded with a visit to the  Moderna Museet.

Getting there itself is charming: the Museum is located in the center of Skeppsholmen one the several small islands that are part of  Stockholm. It’s a lovely walk along the bridge connecting the island then a pathway along the water opposite some tall Scandinavian architecture, a looming castle, and some modern buildings which then curves into a shady tree-lined pathway.

Opposite the Museum itself is the following odd set of sculptures by Nikki de Saint-Phalle and Jean Tinguely  (Le Paradis Fantastique):

Directly in front of the Moderna Museet is a large mechanical moving sculpture by Calder entitled The Four Seasons. The museum itself is free, as is the coat check which makes it a wonderful way to spend the afternoon since, as I mentioned before, Stockholm is very expensive.

The Moderna Museet collection has a solid bag of Dali, Picasso, Warhol  and other usual suspects including one of the more extreme Rauschenberg ‘combines’ Monogram (I saw this piece at the Pompidou five years ago and since then I describe his work by saying “he’ll put a tire around a goat”).

However what makes the collection unique are two things: (1) inclusion of Scandinavian artists, for example cubist Siri Derkert and (2) a concentration of Russian artists which form the “core of the collection”. In fact two rooms are dedicated to Russian constructivism and surrealism including this intriguing wall of communist-era posters:

The Moderna Museet has a focus on photography at the present. The impressive collection includes several rooms of Man Ray, Gursky, Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman while including Scandinavian photographers such as Tuija Lindström, Christer Strömholm, Miriam Bäckström and others. The portraits by the latter group of  artists have a uniquely Scandinavian feel to them, parelleling Dogme filmaking, where the stark background brings the personality or situation of the subject into stark relief.

An interesting twist is the user-generated photography exhibit where patrons can upload their photos of everyday life to the Museum’s website and they will be displayed at the Moderna Museet. I originally thought it would be as boring as looking though Facebook albums of self-indulgent people you don’t know, but the scenes had a universal quality to them, and was actually fairly poignant.

A major highlight is the café. Eat here. The view itself, overlooking Djurgarden is gorgeous. If you go to the museum and have limited time spend it gazing at this view over various gravlax and pickled herring.

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