Exploring a City of Islands & Bridges: FINALE


Tuesday, March 28

One more museum was on Kathryn’s list for art:  Sweden’s Moderna Museet (Modern Museum). Neither Max nor I would call ourselves connoisseurs or huge fans of modern art; but, I do like some of the work and I do appreciate some of the talent and I do enjoy being exposed to it; plus, there’s always my artist friend’s (Ellen’s) little voice in my head reminding me that no, just because it’s white paint on white canvas doesn’t mean I could do the same. So, on a beautiful sunny day the three of us ended up on another island, Skeppsholmen, where this building perched atop a hill.

As we strolled up the road this sign could have been the perfect billboard for our destination.

This museum, similar to others we’ve visited, uses its space to host not only permanent and temporary collections but also lectures, library, gift shop, and several cafes (yes, we ate at this museum, too). With all of its offerings we entered into a busy scene, primarily due to a special exhibit by a well-known performance artist, Marina Abromovic.

I knew we were in for an avant garde-type experience when I saw the toilet stall on video in the sink area. I discovered once in the stall that, thankfully, it was only a replica being broadcast in the public area of the restroom…

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Back in the main part of the museum displayed artwork in large spacious rooms presented a range of talent, color, and experiences. Recognizable names such as:

Edvard Munch (1863-1944) who began painting in brighter colors (“Work in the Fields” 1918) after going through a rough period in life;

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Henri Matisse (1869-1954) whose humid portrayal of nature “Moroccan Landscape” 1912

contrasts with his bold montages whose colors just zing;

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and, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) whose portrait of Dora Maar, an artist and photographer as well as one of his mistresses (“Woman with a Blue Collar” 1941) fits perfectly with her taste in surrealism.

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As usual my art knowledge didn’t extend past those household names (like those above) as I continued touring the modern world of artistic expression. Some names I captured because I liked their art:

Swedish artist Sigrid Hjerten (1885-1948) who studied under Matisse at the age of 25 and whose influence can be seen in her “View of Slussen” (1919).

And, others’ names whom I didn’t note…

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I was able to catch Max contemplating (longing for?) the outdoors (which just happens to feature boats…)

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and, later, one of Kathryn against some vividly billowing pink (a fan generated waves of this hung fabric captivated both of us).

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After wandering through quite a few modern art rooms we found Max taking a break

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before we headed into the special exhibit of Marina Abramovic’s (b.1946) work.

Abramovic, born in Yugoslavia of Parisian war heroes, is heralded as one of THE performance artists, and this exhibit represents her first major retrospective in Europe. Her art engendered a full range of emotions as I witnessed her performances. Stunned, appalled, disturbed, and eventually thrown into a fit of giggles, the three of us obtained our full of this disconcerting artist.

Kathryn had some familiarity with Abramovic recalling a 2010 MoMA exhibit she’d heard about;

so, she had an inkling of what to expect while both Max and I walked into her exhibits totally unaware of the breadth of this artist’s bizarre experiments. For instance:

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In another, she lit a star of fire and laid in the middle. She passed out due to the unforeseen occurrence of the the fire absorbing her oxygen. Fortunately, when the viewers realized she had stopped ‘performing’, they pulled her out as the flames began licking her clothing.

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Abramovic’s “Rest Energy” performed 1980 with a bow, arrow, and microphones attached to chests recorded her and her accompanying artist’s heartbeats. She’s quoted as saying the four minutes and ten seconds of this performance was one of her most difficult ones…

Need I say more?

But, I will as one of the latter ones I saw made me laugh out loud:

Finally, we could participate ourselves in one of her performances: literally, “Counting the Rice” 2015…

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one, which I performed and appreciated.

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With the opening of the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) in Hudson, NY you, too, can witness the art of exhibitionists. Like me you may find it difficult to separate those who are truly artists and those who simply want the glory of shocking others.



A buffet lunch (another excellent repast at a very reasonable price) gave us sustenance to finish our day with one more museum, the Hallwylska Museet (Hallwyl Museum) located in Central Stockholm.

Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl built this house as both a home and a showcase for their collections. Designed by Gustav Clason who also drew the plans for the Nordiska Museet, the rooms display the wealthy taste of its occupants with priceless Belgian tapestries and glittery murals

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to over-the-top china collections

to modern technology (most likely the first home to include these conveniences) such as central heating, electric lighting in every room, and opulent plumbing over which I drooled when I saw the tub.

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We saw their bedroom, which, surprisingly, they shared. The young woman stationed in the room explained this became common practice as bedrooms morphed from being treated as state rooms (kings and queens in earlier centuries would often hold meetings in their boudoirs) to becoming private areas where ‘sex’ (considered ‘dirty’) needed to be hidden from others’ eyes.

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With no budget restrictions their home cost 1.5 million Swedish kroner, making it the most expensive private residences ever built in Sweden. And, this was just their winter abode…

Adorning the walls family portraits depicted the owners:  Walther (1839-1921), a Swiss from one of Europe’s oldest families dating back to the 12th century;

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Wilhelmina (1844-1930), the only child of an extremely wealthy, Swedish timber-merchant and founder of Ljusne-Woxna Aktiebolag, which Walther took over (FYI:  her portrait unusually emphasizes her features as oppose to her dress);

Ebba (1866-1960), a feminist supporting the female suffrage movement;


Ellen (1867-1952), an artist and sculptress who scandalously divorced her husband to marry her son’s tutor (ironically, her feminist sister strongly disapproved);


and, Irma (1873-1959) who lived the life most closely associated with debutantes of the era, hosting parties, balls and hunts.

The von Hallwyls bequeathed their home to the government in 1920 stipulating that everything would be essentially remain unchanged; and, so eight years after Wilhelmina’s death the Swedes complied, as witnessed by the trash can holding Walthar’s last toss:

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Our final tour of Stockholm ended with an easy dinner at home and our catching flights out the next morning.

Another amazing, wonderful adventure made even better by sharing it with Kathryn whose joy in discovering the delights of this city only enhanced Max’s and my appreciation of this Scandinavian treasure.




3 thoughts on “Exploring a City of Islands & Bridges: FINALE

  1. Douwe Gorter

    I just “stumbled” over your blog which I had never seen before for some reason… we have never realised you were in the Netherlands for such a long time already. I believe your are very close to where we are at the moment. Actually STAYER was build in Hindeloopen. She is now in Den Oever and we are at home in Harlingen. It would be very nice if we could find an opportunityto meet again!

    My email is. Nachtlan -at- hotmail

    Warm regards,


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