In summer 2018 the National Museum presents an artistic intervention in the National Gallery. The project takes the form of a mild intervention within the museum’s display of historical art from its own collection, The Dance of Life.
On show alongside some of the museum’s best known treasures are works by the artist Dag Erik Elgin (b. 1962). These too can be viewed as museum works. They belong to three series that address various aspects of the way art is displayed and handled in art museums.
The National Museum is on the verge of relocating. In spring 2020, the new National Museum will open at Vestbanen. In preparation, the museum is working intensely with its collection. But museums are also a workplace for artists. They come to study, learn, and seek inspiration. And sometimes they get annoyed – by what they find there, or by the absence of certain artists and their works.
Over the decades Elgin has become intimately familiar with the art in the National Gallery. In his younger years he copied many paintings in the collection, mounting his own versions in historically representative frames and hanging them on his walls at home. Later, this interest inspired series of paintings that used the radical reduction of minimalism or the concept artist’s preoccupation with information, text and numbers.
Elgin’s works allude to the presence and absence of artworks and traditions. They tell us about role-models, assessments of quality, and provenance. Which works are sufficiently good or interesting to be preserved in a museum? What narratives are they embedded in? The art museum is brought into focus as a place for study and learning, but also as a creative teller of stories. The National Gallery has been an important influence in spreading knowledge about art in Norway. What will the consequence be of moving the artworks from their current home?
Dag Erik Elgin trained at the National Academy of Fine Art in Oslo (1986–88) and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1988–90). Since the early 1990s, his work has earned him a solid reputation. In 2014, he won the Carnegie Art Awards’ first prize, and from 2010 to 2016 he was professor at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO). He lives and works in Oslo.