Opening on 15 May, the Highlights exhibition will feature a selection of Nationalmuseum’s best-known and most popular works. Artists such as Paul Cézanne, Anders Zorn, Judith Leyster and Antoine Watteau will rub shoulders. The exhibition also considers why some works achieve greater popularity than others and parallels will be drawn between the modern-day phenomenon of selfies and older forms of portraiture.
This year’s summer exhibition, Highlights. Famous and Forgotten Art Treasures from Nationalmuseum, features a long list of key works from the museum’s collection. Alongside pieces by French artists like Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot, the exhibits will include well-known works by Scandinavian fin de siècle artists such as Anders Zorn, Bruno Liljefors, Carl Larsson, Eva Bonnier and August Strindberg, to name but a few. There will also be classic works by earlier artists, such as the Dutch 17th-century painters Rembrandt and Judith Leyster, and 18th-century artists like Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Anne Vallayer-Coster. In short, the exhibition will present a selection of paintings, sculpture, applied art and design from the 16th century to the present day.
As well as displaying well-known artworks, the exhibition will reflect on why some works have achieved greater popularity than others, and how our notions of art have changed over the ages. The exhibition will chart the path to stardom taken by certain paintings, but will also follow the fortunes of works that never quite made it and long-forgotten pieces that were big hits in their day.
A section of the exhibition will draw parallels between past and present, comparing older portraits with today’s “selfies” – self-portraits taken at arm’s length on a mobile phone. The comparison will reveal that the selfie is not an entirely new genre of visual art, but is firmly rooted in the western tradition of self-portraiture – and that portraits are largely about power, marketing, and positioning yourself in the social hierarchy, irrespective of which century you live in. An audiovisual presentation will play alongside the portraits, featuring the actress Ann Petrén in a discussion of stereotypes, body language, and the human need for validation.