Nordic cool, all the rage. No, I’m not talking about the festival currently going on at The Kennedy Center (Nordic Cool 2013), but rather, an entire movement of appreciation for the blonde-haired, Acne-wearing style-setters that make up the countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Of interest for some time now in the fashion set, the arts community is now jumping on the trend, embracing this cool breeze with open arms. While the blue-lit Kennedy Center is certainly a scene stealer, alighting the Potomac River with an eerily beautiful (and unnatural) blue glow, another Nordic-focused arts opening captured my attention recently, the show titled “A World Apart: Anna Ancher and the Skagen Art Colony,” currently on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. For those unfamiliar with the small but mighty museum, the NMWA recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to recognizing women’s creative contributions.
At the center of the story, lies Skagen, the tiny seaside fishing community perched at the very tippy-top of Denmark. The town was a haven for artists in the late 19th century whom flocked to this picturesque blue-collar seaside community to record a life of yesteryear, a lifestyle quickly flashing before their eyes in the face of industrialization of nearby Copenhagen and other European cities. The Skagen Painters, as they were called, included P.S. Krøyer, possibly the most famous of them all, and of course, Anna Ancher, one of the most prized female painters in Dutch art history.
“Sunlight in a Blue Room,” Anna Ancher courtesy NMWA.
Ancher is most admired for her paintings of interiors filled with light and color, influenced by Impressionism, best demonstrated in the above, “Sunlight in a Blue Room.” Ancher builds light as an actual object, adding depth to everyday life images and emotion to interiors. While she dabbled in plein air painting and a few seaside images, her most notable pieces are those where she allowed light to take center stage. The images harken back to a simpler time, one of contemplation and quiet, beauty and the natural. The exhibition currently at the NMWA is the largest exhibition of Ancher’s work ever to be held in the United States, including over 40 paintings by Ancher and more than 20 by her Skagen colleagues. On view now through May 12th, 2013, for more information visit: http://www.nmwa.org/exhibitions/world-apart.