Humlebæk

Louisiana

Henry Moore sculpture at entrance to Louisiana
Henry Moore sculpture at entrance to Louisiana

Unless you already know, you’d be surprised how close Louisiana is to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s only about a 30-minute train ride followed by a leisurely 15-minute stroll over flat land. Of course, it helps if you know that I’m talking not about the U.S. state, but about the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.

One of my personality traits will come up a number of times in this blog, so I won’t dwell on it here. (No, I’m not talking about my neurotic nature here. That won’t come up a number of times, that will likely come up a phenomenal number of times.) Here’s what it is: Suffice it to say that I’m not a huge fan of art galleries. I tend to get bored  in them quickly.

So why did I out of my way to visit the Louisiana gallery? I went because a close relative, who happens to be an art historian, said that Louisiana is a cool place. She was right.

Allow me to offer one piece of advice about visiting Louisiana. You will thank me for it if you go. If you are going to be in the Copenhagen area for a number of days, look at the long-range weather forecast and plan to go to the Louisiana gallery on the nicest day. The one exception is if that’s a Monday because the gallery is closed Mondays. The reason for picking a great-weather day will become apparent anon. But, first, some boring descriptive text.

Louisiana isn’t a gigantic gallery, which is a good thing because it fell within my gallery tolerance level, but it’s larger than it looks like at first. Just when you think you’ve wandered through it all you find a set of stairs leading down to more galleries.

David Hockney's Grand Canyon
David Hockney’s Grand Canyon

One of the paintings there was a very large abstract rendering of the Grand Canyon by David Hockney. I toss out the name David Hockney as if everyone is familiar with him. Maybe they are, but I wasn’t until about half a year ago when I agreed to go to a Hockney exhibit while visiting San Francisco about half a year ago. Going to a gallery was a compromise that I made so my friends would agree to do some of the things I wanted to do as well. Did I mention that I’m an art Philistine?

I mention the Hockney painting not just because it was the biggest painting installed in Louisiana. I mention it because looking at it made me feel very cosmopolitan. Hockney is a British artist. I’m Canadian. So I was a Canadian looking at a painting by a British artist of an American scene in a gallery in a town outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. Instant cosmopolitan, just add, well, nothing.

View at Louisiana
View at Louisiana

Head Out

Here comes the bit where I tell you why you should go to Louisiana on a day when the weather is nice or, preferably, perfect.

When you go to Louisiana make sure to go outside and wander around the grounds out back. There’s lots of grass, trees and sculptures scattered about, all of which overlooks the sea. It’s beautiful.

One of the sculptures outside, by an artist named Joan Miro, reminded of ET, the Extra-Terrestrial, but with all of his external anatomy showing. Steven Spielberg never showed that or, if he did, I missed that director’s cut of the film. I can report that, if it was an accurate depiction, ET has a penis capable of an erection. Then again, I don’t think Miro was trying to depict ET, so never mind.

ET erect?
ET erect?

At Peace. Out to Lunch.

In addition to going on a nice day, plan to be there for lunch. (You have to buy your food at the counter and carry it to the table yourself. There’s no table service other than to collect your plates when you’re done.)

The food was very good, but that’s almost secondary. I had a tasty open-face salmon sandwich that used whole pieces of salmon, not salmon salad, and was delicately and flavorfully garnished. I also had a glass of white wine. The wine wasn’t at all secondary to the experience.

I took my sandwich and wine out to one of the café’s outdoor tables overlooking a small stretch of lawn, some trees, a couple of abstract metal sculptures and the sea. I leisurely ate my sandwich, sipped my wine, gazed at the sea and contemplated absolutely nothing. It was one of the most peacefully enjoyable experiences of my life.

View from the Louisiana cafe
View from the Louisiana cafe

I’m a perpetually very nervous person. Before my visit to the cafe at Louisiana I can remember being truly relaxed only twice in my life. Once was sitting at the summit of a mountain near San Francisco (Mount Tamalpais) watching a large bird gently swoop and swirl on the thermals.

The other time was post-coital. Enough said.

Now, to that list, I can add sitting on the patio at Louisiana, eating my sandwich, sipping my wine, gazing at the view and thinking about nothing other than how relaxed I was. For about three-and-a-half, maybe even four, perfect minutes I forgot everything I had on my agenda to worry about.

The long and the short of it is, if you’re going to Copenhagen be sure to reserve some time to visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Then again, I don’t know you, so you be the judge.

Been there? Done that? Do tell.