Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean
October 17th, 2011
I will be traveling to Luxembourg, Luxembourg this coming Wednesday, and while doing a bit of research and planning, I have come across a modern art museum worthy of a DTC post. The Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, informally known as the Mudam, selects and displays artworks responsive to the current world culture and times, regardless of techniques and mediums. As Luxembourg is an internationally connected city, the collection consists of approximately 10% Luxembourgish artists, and the rest are selected from all corners of the world. The current collection, Walking Through…, is a reflection on the perception of landscapes. Some artists question the definition of a landscape; David Zink Yi inverted the human body as a landscape to be moved over. Other artists have taken a more literal approach but create a thought-provoking juxtaposition or display an ordinary landscape in a different spotlight. The 20 artists featured in the exhibit speak to the plurality of views and relationships with our landscapes, each approaching the topic with unique views.
The other exhibition on show right now, Mondes Inventes, Mondes Inhabites, reveals the world through the eyes of engineers, architects and thinkers. Dismantling the forces and mechanics that control our politics, economies and world in general, these often complicated works attempt to translate the beauty of the dynamics that drive the world as we know it. Isa Melsheimer's work translates her interests in architecture "as a means of developing ideas about the space we inhabit, the conception we have of it but also its instability." The works of David Altmejd playfully recreate fantastical worlds with unlikely materials.
The building housing these artworks is worth mentioning as well. Designed by Chinese-American architect, Ieoh Ming Pei, the building mimics some of the architectural vocabulary employed at the earlier, and more widely known and controversial glass pyramid addition (1988-89) at the Louvre Museum in Paris. His design for the Mudam was derived from the shape of the Fort Thungen walls still located on the site of the new museum. Pei had planned to remove a portion of the fort's foundations, but public outcry was so forceful that his plans were cut in half and set back from the foundations. Though Pei was disappointed with the alterations, he remained involved in the project through its completion in 2006. In my opinion, the building is laggingly reminiscent of Post-Modern architecture. The whole Po-Mo movement is beginning to grow on me, especially after a short visit to the premiere Po-Mo city of Eichstatt, Germany this past April (possibly a topic for an upcoming post). Yet, with Pei's Mudam Museum, the forms are just too massive, too simple. It isn't innovative and it doesn't seem to speak for anyone or anything. I realize that the Post Modern movement was about disconnecting architecture from emotions or the antiquated notions of using architecture to denote the views of its occupants or its proprietors, but this building missed the gun by about 15 years. I will save any further scathing critique until after I see the building and site first hand, as it is not nice to judge without experience.
Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics