The exhibition highlights Dahl’s development as a landscape painter through an extensive selection of paintings and drawings. It also directs attention to our own time by posing the question of what Dahl’s landscapes can teach us today.
Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (1788-1857) was Norway’s first fine art painter of international stature and is often referred to as the father of Norwegian painting. He came from modest means in Bergen and ended as a professor at the art academy in Dresden.
The exhibition demonstrates how the landscapes of Norway were perceived during the period of Romanticism – magnificent and imposing – though unfamiliar to foreigners and most Norwegians. Through his oeuvre Dahl has contributed to forming the image of the Norwegian landscape as a valuable resource – an image that we largely continue to benefit from today.
The exhibition will be built around various themes that are linked to Dahl’s entire career. His journey to Italy and his travels around Norway – among other places Telemark, Hardangervidda, Voss and Sogn – will be important references in the depictions of natural phenomena and stunning panoramas. Waterfalls and glaciers, volcano eruptions and shipwrecks, moonlight scenes, narrow fjords and wild mountain plateaus are all motifs depicted in Dahl’s paintings.
“Norway is an untamed land which is not developed and can offer great gains”, Dahl wrote. The Norwegian landscape is a popular motif even today, and is extensively used to promote Norway. It is a resource that due to industrial exploitation, tourism and a climate change is in danger of being depleted. Dahl’s pictures thus represent important documentations that can inspire us to shift our focus and become more cautious in our management of nature.
KODE’s extensive Dahl collection, including famous pictures such as Birch Tree in a Storm and Bergen’s Våg, will be shown in the exhibition together with a number of borrowed paintings. Among them are masterpieces from the National Museum in Oslo, such as the magnificent View from Stalheim and Stugunøset at Filefjell, loans from the National Gallery of Denmark and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and from a number of other private collectors.