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Henie Onstad Kunstsenter
Henie Onstad Kunstsenter.
Photo: Henie Onstad Fotoarkiv
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The modern art gallery and live venue Henie Onstad Kunstsenter celebrates half a century with new sculptures, a grand presentation of the museum’s art collection and a commissioned concert with space disco maestro Lindstrøm.

Published: 24 August 2018

In 1968, the idyllic recreation area Høvikodden in Bærum outside Oslo became home to a music and art center that instantly made its mark on Norway’s cultural scene – and still does.  

The Norwegian figure skater and Hollywood star Sonja Henie had returned to her old country in the 50s. With her husband Nils Onstad, she founded Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK), where a collection that started with approximately 300 works has expanded to more than 4000. But the art collection is not the only reason why this 50-year-old remains vital in 2018.

Henie Onstad

Henie Onstad.
Photo: Henie Onstad Fotoarkiv

A house with many rooms

Lars Mørch Finborud works as a curator and musical director at HOK. He points out that the most prominent hallmark of the house is the diversity of its activities. 

“When the idea of Henie Onstad was contemplated in the early 60s, there were neither a modern museum, a concert house, a cinémathèque, a jazz club, a modern dance scene nor a youth club in Eastern Norway.” 

“The donors and the centre’s first director, Ole Henrik Moe, wanted Henie Onstad to contain all those things. That’s why Henie Onstad didn’t become a traditional museum, but rather an art centre”, he says to Visit Norway.

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, 1964

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, 1964.
Photo: Henie Onstad Fotoarkiv

This interdisciplinary focus makes HOK unique, says Mørch Finborud – both in a Norwegian and an international context. 

A quick glance at the centre’s 50 years suggests that he may have a point: A multitude of happenings have taken place between these walls, from a vast number of concerts, film showings and modern dance productions to exihibitions featuring several of the world’s leading artists.   

The collection includes works from master painters Munch, Picasso, Miró and Matisse, along with a special focus on European post-war art movements such as Fluxus and Cobra. In addition, prominent contemporary artists have been drawn to the centre and spent time at Høvikodden – Yoko Ono, Christo, Marina Abramovic and John Cage among them.

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono.
Photo: Henie Onstad Fotoarkiv

Audience with the king of space disco

As HOK opened its doors in 1968, the soundtrack for the occasion was provided by a young composer at the peak of his powers: Arne Nordheim, who performed the commissioned work Solitaire for electronic music and lights. 50 years later, another internationally renowned creator of electronic music carries the sonic torch.   

“When we were going to choose an artist for the jubilee commision this autumn, we asked ourselves “where do we find the genre-busting and innovative electronic music of 2018?”. We soon realised that it would be natural to ask Lindstrøm – the king of space disco, and one of the central electronica figures the last 20 years – to do the honour”, Lars Mørch Finborud says.

The work is performed with synthesizers, drum machines and older instruments, and the sound is accompanied by scenography made by light artist Kyrre Heldal Larsen. But that’s far from all that’s happening at HOK this autumn, according to Mørch Finborud. 

“We’ll be opening the grand exhibition Turn and Face the Strange, showing different sides of the Henie Onstad art collection. At the same time we’re opening the doors to the permanent installation Hymn of Life by Yayoi Kusama, and Per Inge Bjørlo has made some fantastic new sculptures that will enhance the art center’s outdoor area.”

25 years of Astrup Fearnley

Art lovers have one more reason to rejoice this season – another important Norwegian art institution is celebrating a round-numbered birthday this year as well.  

The vital 25-year-old Astrup Fearnley Museet has been located in Oslo’s city centre since 1993. The museum is perhaps best known for having Jeff Koons’ controversial porcelain sculpture Michael Jackson and Bubbles in its collection, which also contains works by Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst and Nate Lowman.       

The anniversary has been celebrated with several exhibitions earlier this year, and this autumn, Astrup Fearnley provides it visitors an in-depth look into the art of Dan Colen, Jeff Koons and Frank Benson.

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