The closer and more interesting museum is the Gallerietmuseet. I hoped I would get lucky like last year at the Nordiska Museum, in Stockholm, when I told the lady that I was a journalist and asked to enter for free. She let in and even gave me an information booklet in English, all for free. The book itself sold for 250 Swedish crowns (about 25 Euros). Today, it would be sufficient that I get a free pass because my bag is already heavy. At the entrance of the museum, I ask the attendant if journalists can enter for free. He kindly asked me if I had a press card. I showed him my business card which he looked at without much attention, and gave me a blue sticker: I WAS IN!
I decided to leave my bag in the cloakroom where there was a number of paying lockers. It took me half an hour to figure out—IDIOT!—that the locker was taking euros (ten or one euro coins) and not Norwegian crowns. My brain completely blanked out in front of the euro symbol. I kept trying to put in a crown. I even got angry, complaining that it didn’t work. Finally I put in a euro, spun the dial, and it closed.
To my defence, I want to indicate that I was not the only one having problems with the locker. Two Italian girls had the same trouble. When I revealed the secret, in Italian, they looked at me as if I was the Weeping Virgin Mary herself.
As I am to enter the exhibits’ part of the museum, I show the blue sticker to the security guard at the door. He takes it from my hand and slaps it on my cardigan pressing on all sides to make sure it stays, just like mothers do when they wipe their children’s mouth after they ate chocolate. I feel doubly idiot!
The museum is not huge, just one floor. Still, a quick reading of the introductory brochure mentioned a few interesting paintings. I looked at the map to plan my visit.
I was surprised by the works in museum : the first rooms are devoted to Scandinavian artists. I find the first romantic painter, Christian Dahl, who depicts the Norwegian mountain landscapes. Then I am amazed by Lucas Cranach. There are only religious paintings in that room; the very last painting, before leaving the hall is “The Golden Age” presenting couples having sex in a hypothetical garden of Eden. The thing that amazed me is the avanguard orgy in a room so conservative and religious. Another thing that surprised me in the next room where Italian paintings were displayed is to see the works of Orazio Odaleschi and his DAUGHTER Artemisia! The paintings date from the neoclassical period and I am thrilled that a woman at that time could paint. Honestly, in all the museums that I’ve visited, I’ve never seen works by female artists, at least not anything earlier than the twentieth century! Interesting to find that the artist is Italian!
The work that most attracts my attention is certainly Titian’s “Danae”. I must disappoint De la Croix when I think that his with his 4 10×15 microscopic portraits seem quite insignificant compared to the the size of the painting titled “France who leads the people” in the Louvre.
Continuing with the local artists, I remain fascinated by the painters who followed the artistic movement of Dahl, as Balke and Thomas Fearnley, but the thing that makes me gasp is to discover that this museum has the famous “SKRIK”, “The Scream”, by Edvard Munch. I was convinced, first of all, that the artist was Dutch and not Norwegian, and therefore thought that the painting was found in Amsterdam. Surely, it could not have been stolen! A few years ago the theft of “The Scream” had created a huge scandal and now I find him in front of me! I asked the guard if the painting is the original and also about the theft. He tells me that it had been stolen, but fortunately was recovered. However, there are four copies of the painting: one is in front of me, another was sold to an anonymous billionaire, and the other two are always at the Munch Museum in Oslo.
I have to wonder, then, why all this fuss about the theft when in the end there are four copies. Actually, even if a copy was stolen, there are always the other 3, no? The Munch Museum could give the extra copy to the National Gallery ….! Speechless!
Besides “The Scream”, I’m impressed by the sensuality of the painting of the Madonna, who looks more like the singer Madonna the Virgin, and by the painting by Dagen Dupa, in which a woman is in a coma, perhaps after a hangove. That’s my uneducated theory. I liked to see “Death of the Virgin” by Caravaggio, my favorite painting.
Other French works, as the sculptures of dancers by Degas, Rodin’s statue of “The Thinker”, and some works by Cezanne, Monet and Manet impress me. Next, I see in the self-portrait of Van Gogh the unmistakable style of Modigliani. Three are two works by Picasso also. Finally, the last room is devoted to Scandinavian artists like Danish Thorvaldsen—which reminds me to travel to Copenhagen—Among Telemarkt, in whose painting two farmers are putting up a fence as they that gossip, watching the horizon, and finally Andersen, “The month of June,” showing a girl holding and contemplating a dandelion. I like the carefree and reflective freedom the flower seems to project. It looks like it is ready to be blown away, to go spread its seeds. I like thinking that I am one of those seeds and that I travel free on the wind.