La Collection Moderne

Henie Onstad Art Centre 2012
National Museum for Art and Architecture Oslo 2012
Sommer&Kohl Berlin 2011
Opdahl Gallery Berlin 2010
ISH Paris 2010
MGM Gallery Oslo 2009

In the painting series, La Collection Moderne, Elgin uses museum labels as the cornerstone of an investigation into Modernism. Instead of being a discreet element within a museum’s presentation, here the labels are raised to the eye-level space that would normally be occupied by the paintings themselves. In historically correct typefaces, the information about the artist, the paintings and the museums are transformed into iconographic still lives on variable monochromatic surfaces.
The modest format references the sizes of the original labels and the paintings’ palette of white, pale pink and grey tones refers to the various paper surfaces of the original labels as well as the museum interiors within which they would have been displayed.

The works included in La Collection Moderne span the period from 1867 to 1937, starting with Gustave Courbet’s La Origine du Monde and ending with Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. The first painting may be said to represent the birth of Modernism, and the last work coincided with the Nazi exhibition Entartete Kunst in Munich in 1937.

Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue from 1926 is represented in three different versions in La Collection Moderne. The first version of the label is from the context of the painting’s inclusion in the Abstraktes Kabinett at the Provinzialmuseum, Hannover before the war. In 1937, the painting was confiscated and registered at the Schloss Niederschonhausen. The third version of the label for Mondrian’s painting is from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Composition with Blue hangs today. It is interesting to note the different typefaces of these three labels: the Bauhaus- inspired font of the 1926 version gives way to one of the Nazi regime’s preferred fonts, Antiqua, in the 1937 label.

Elgin’s text works do not refer primarily to the modernist paintings’ specific provenance or themes. The physical absence of the pictures is evoked as a trace of painterly pleasure as the thickly painted typefaces are rendered in a relief-like, physical layer of paint. Both the original paintings and the text works that refer back to them are executed in oil on canvas. In its most fundamental state, painting, as a practice and as a cultural phenomenon, builds on the principle of leaving a trail of paint on canvas, referencing existing formulations.

Art’s “eternal recurrence”, the historical principle from which Modernism aspired to break away, is central to La Collection Moderne. The iconic paintings of the Modernist movement are echoed not through images, but through text. The text works serve not as iconography, but as examples of precise curatorial registration, neutral descriptions that leave the beholder alone to recall the Modernist works.

In keeping with classic history painting, La Collection Moderne references three specific timeframes. The first is the moment of the historical act, in this case, the actual creation of the Modernist paintings. The second time frame is the moment when the historical painting, the text works, is created. Lastly, one has the moment of double projection experienced by the viewer of the text pictures. Instead of identifying a specific, fixed moment in time, the paintings’ status as physical objects and projections is questioned through the interplay of the paintings’ provenance, and the ambiguity of their material absence and presence.

Capture
Pierre Mignard 1612-1695: Capture

28x31 cm
LCM-Courbet, Oil on Canvas: 28x31 cm

36x55 cm. Coll.National Museum Oslo
LCM-Manet, Oil on Canvas: 36x55 cm. Coll.National Museum Oslo

27x40 cm
LCM-Munch, Oil on Canvas: 27x40 cm

25x30 cm
LCM-Strindberg, Oil on Canvas: 25x30 cm

28x40 cm
LCM-Malevich, Oil on Canvas: 28x40 cm

28x33 cm
LCM-Krohg, Oil on Canvas: 28x33 cm

31x47 cm
LCM-Klee, Oil on Canvas: 31x47 cm

29x34 cm
LCM-Gris, Oil on Canvas: 29x34 cm

27x40 cm
LCM-Matisse, Oil on Canvas: 27x40 cm

41x57 cm. Coll.National Museum Oslo
LCM-Léger, Oil on Canvas: 41x57 cm. Coll.National Museum Oslo

25x32 cm. Coll.National Museum Oslo
LCM-Wankel, Oil on Canvas: 25x32 cm. Coll.National Museum Oslo

27x35 cm
LCM-Magritte, Oil on Canvas: 27x35 cm

30x46 cm
LCM-Ernst, Oil on Canvas: 30x46 cm

32x51 cm
LCM-Picasso, Oil on Canvas: 32x51 cm

40x45 cm
LCM-Kandinsky, (Hannover): 40x45 cm

28x40 cm
LCM-Kandinsky (Niederschoenhausen): 28x40 cm

26x32 cm
LCM-Kandinsky (Fondation Beyeler): 26x32 cm


Schrifterlass 1941 (A. Bormann) 

Galleri MGM, Oslo 2010
La Collection Moderne : Galleri MGM, Oslo 2010

Galleri MGM, Oslo 2010
La Collection Moderne: Galleri MGM, Oslo 2010

Oil on canvas, 180x250cm x II, 2011
Barnett Newman Onement One 1948: Oil on canvas, 180x250cm x II, 2011