In Minneapolis, Reflecting on Great Nordic Artists

Edvard Munch's
Edvard Munch's "Moonlight" is among the Nordic landscapes featured in the exhibition. (Minneapolis Institute Of Arts / Edvard Munch / National Museum Of Art, Architecture And Design, Oslo)
Sunday, June 17, 2007

WHAT: "A Mirror of Nature: Nordic Landscape Painting, 1840-1910" at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

WHEN: June 24-Sept. 2


WHY GO: A Nordic breeze is sweeping through Minneapolis this summer as the city celebrates its roots with programs and events showcasing the arts and cultures of Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland.

The centerpiece of the festivities is the Minneapolis Institute of Art's new exhibition comprising more than 100 paintings on loan from the national galleries in Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Reykjavík.

The national galleries "all got together and said, 'We're going to do this and bring together our greatest national treasures, and we're going to put them in a context much larger than they've been in before,'" said Patrick Noon, chairman of paintings and modern sculpture at the institute. "Believe it or not, even though these countries are hugging each other, they've never really tried this."

Featuring the works of notable Nordic artists Edvard Munch, Carl Larsson and Johan Christian Dahl, the paintings are grouped thematically under five headings: "Nordic Sublime," "Close to Nature," "In the Open Air," "Evocative Landscape" and "Landscapes of the Mind."

The themes coincide with the chronology of Nordic landscape painting, from impressions of the open wilderness of the 1840s to more subjective, inward-looking depictions of nature that emerged at the dawn of the 20th century.

DON'T MISS . . . Christen Kobke's "A View From Dosseringen" (1838), one of the Danish artist's most iconic images portraying two women standing on a dock underneath a Danish flag as they watch a boat heading out. "It takes a common place and elevates it to something really quite moving," Noon says.

"Summer Night" (1886) by Eilif Peterssen is the exhibition's signature image depicting a wide expanse of lake lit by the last glow of a summer night with the reflection of a crescent moon in the water. Munch's landmark "Moonlight" (1895) is an example of the artist simplifying nature's forms into symbols without losing a sense of reality.

EXTRAS: Nordic Summer is a citywide celebration offering some 25 area attractions, programs and events steeped in Nordic culture. For a complete list, visit Some of the highlights include Norway Day at Minnehaha Park (4801 Minnehaha Ave. S.) on July 11, a day of Norwegian food, music dance and crafts.

At the American Swedish Institute (2600 Park Ave. S., 612-871-4907), the exhibit "Sacred Beauty: Treasures From Swedish Cathedrals and Churches," running through Oct. 7, focuses on objects and textiles representing the legacy of worship in Swedish churches. Tickets are $6.

From Oct. 7 to 14, it's the Leiv Eriksson International Festival, celebrating the famous Viking explorer and sponsored by Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (924 E. 21st St., 612-874-0716). No details yet (past festivals have featured art, music and plenty of food), but who wouldn't want to go to a Leiv Eriksson festival?

EATS: Vincent (1100 Nicollet Mall, 612-630-1189) offers fine French dining under the leadership of renowned chef Vincent Francoual, known for his contemporary take on French dishes. The tasting menu ($68 per person) includes pan-seared scallops, serrano- and black olive-crusted monkfish and grilled beef tenderloin.

Azia (2550 Nicollet Ave. S., 612-813-1200) specializes in Asian fusion cuisine; it is located on the city's famous Eat Street among a slew of ethnic restaurants. Azia features an anemone sushi and oyster bar along with dishes such as duck breast in green curry and grilled pork with apple plum chutney, ranging from $14 to $30.

SLEEPS: Chambers (901 Hennepin Ave., 877-767-6990, has more than 200 works of art by British artists Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Angus Fairhurst on its walls. Occupying two recently renovated landmark buildings, the hotel offers rooms ranging from a reasonable $239 a night double occupancy to an outrageous $3,500 for the Rock Star Suite.

The 21-story Graves 601 Hotel (601 First Ave. N., 866-523-1100, in downtown Minneapolis provides citywide views. Boasting a slick modern design, the hotel is also known for its headboards, with edge-lit, handcrafted and etched glass panels depicting one of four Minneapolis landscapes. Rooms start at $309 on weekdays, $199 weekends, double occupancy.

INFO: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Ave. S., 888-642-2787,

-- John Maynard

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