As a counter balance to the boredom and wasted time of waiting in airports I have always tried to save half a day or so, when travelling to work with partners, to explore the local art galleries and museums. I have been very fortunate to have been able to see some of the world’s most exciting galleries and to enjoy some amazing art.
Scandinavia is rich in superb museums, and just a walk away from the offices of Swedish Jobs and Society and CSR Sweden on Skeppsbron, is the Moderna Museet, on a pretty wooded hill. In addition to a brilliant collection of Swedish art, there is a permanent open air exhibition of sculptures by the Swiss Jean Tinguely and his French partner Nikki de St Phalle. The same artists also have a permanent installation outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
And working in Copenhagen with the Council on Social Volunteering one year, I was able to visit two amazing museums, one to the north in Humlebaek and the other to the south of the city near Ishoj. The first, Louisiana, is based on a big old country house in huge grounds overlooking the sea. It is dedicated to modern art, and was where I was first introduced to the work of Robert Jacobsen and Anselm Kiefer. But perhaps the most awesome sight is a huge Henry Moore reclining figure right at the edge of the grounds looking out to sea – very inspiring.
The other museum is also on the sea, but this time right near the sand dunes in a spectacular setting. It is Arken, Danish for Ark, and it too is dedicated to modern art. Designed by Robert Lund, the museum was placed as a ship, with a stem and sails, by the edge of the sea. Like all capital city museums today, it has a very international outlook, and I saw there a magnificent retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg, one of my favourite artists, and more surprisingly a very comprehensive exhibition of Aboriginal art from Australia. Go to Denmark, my son, to learn of Uluru!
Speaking with Maria Erquiaga from FEYS at a conference in Barcelona in 2008, I gave up my lunch hour to visit the Joan Miro museum on the hill. A modern white building, it has a beautiful collection of the Master’s paintings, and my preferred side of his work, his sculptures. Many of them are outside and their bright colours are enhanced by the strong Catalunya sun. If you like Miro, make sure also to visit the Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence, north of Antibes, which also has an extraordinary collection of his sculpture.
On to South America, with a variety of work commitments with partners. Two very contrasting experiences in Buenos Aires, itself a vast work of art, were the superb Museo de Arte Latinamericano de Buenos Aires, MALBA, and an open lot near Retiro railway station. The first, MALBA, is a beautifully designed 4 storey building combining both art from the continent and from around the world. There I was introduced to a new generation of talented young Argentine painters, and also to an exhibition of the cartoon in modern art, featuring among others American legend Robert Crumb and the Swedish Pop artist Oyvind Fahlstrom.
The open lot featured dozens of huge junk sculptures made by an artist called Regazzoni. (Christian Tiscornia of Amartya knows him and says he is a little odd). In this vacant lot, full of weeds and puddles, with the crazy but exhilarating anarchy of the giant assemblages, the contrast with clean, modern MALBA was worth the pain of Heathrow!!
Many other museums around the world spring to mind, Guggenheim Bilbao, Musee du Quai Branly, Rijksmuseum and so on, but I cannot finish without a mention of la Chascona in Santiago. I was introduced to this astonishing collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, bottles and shells assembled by the Nobel prize winning poet Pablo Neruda, by a great friend, Chilean journalist Mariela Vallejos, and it remains one of my favourite places anywhere.