The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design
Oslo, Norway
7 January 2018

 

This summer, the new exhibition “Restless Gestures. Works from the Hubert Looser Collection” at the National Gallery gives visitors the chance to see works by some of the most renowned artists of the twentieth century, such as Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Arshile Gorky, David Smith, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Sean Scully, Brice Marden, and Rebecca Horn. These are artists who are rarely on display in Norway and who are hardly to be found in Norwegian collections.

The nearly fifty works being shown at the exhibition stem primarily from the collection owned by the Swiss businessman and philanthropist Hubert Looser, a collection that is regarded as among the finest private ones in Europe. Acquired over the span of forty years, the Hubert Looser Collection focuses mainly on surrealism, abstract expressionism, minimalism, and arte povera. Select parts of the collection have now been donated to the Kunsthaus Zürich, where they will become available to the public from autumn 2020. To provide a local context, the current exhibition will also display a handful of related Norwegian works culled from the National Museum’s own holdings.

The “Restless Gestures” exhibition at the National Gallery explores how highly divergent views on an artist’s gestures have been instrumental in shaping certain important isms and movements from 1930 until the present day. The word “gesture” is often associated with symbolic actions, but in this context the term refers to the artist’s physical actions when encountering the work.

Organized in four chapters, the exhibition shows how different ideas about artistic gestures helped inform surrealism, abstract expressionism, minimalism, and lastly also abstract art from more recent times. The narrative begins with the doodling gestures found in David Smith’s surrealist drawings, before continuing with the violent brushstrokes that typified the abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. Via the minimalists’ attempts at eradicating all trace of any physical gesture, as exemplified by Ellsworth Kelly, the exhibition ends with works by Cy Twombly and Al Taylor, where tell-tale signs of the artist’s hand set up poetic, enigmatic, and witty narratives about everything from mushrooms to dogs answering the call of nature in Montmartre.

Curated by Ingvild Krogvig, “Restless Gestures” is the first exhibition the Museum of Contemporary Art held at the National Gallery during the transition to the new National Museum complex, set to open in central Oslo in 2020.

The exhibition at the National Gallery is accompanied by a catalogue, it opened on 23 June 2017 and will run until 7 January 2018.

Artists from the Hubert Looser Collection: Serge Brignoni, Anthony Caro, John Chamberlain, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Rebecca Horn, Roni Horn, Ellsworth Kelly, Lenz Klotz, Willem de Kooning, Yayoi Kusama, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, Kurt Seligmann, Sean Scully, David Smith, Richard Serra, Al Taylor, Cy Twombly and Fabienne Verdier.

Artists from the National Museum’s holdings: Anna-Eva Bergman, Bjarne Rise, Jacob Schmidt, Fredrik Værslev and Jakob Weidemann.

Image:
Willem de Kooning, Untitled lX, 1977, Oil on canvas 70 x 80 in.