Since its establishment in 1968, The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter collection has grown substantially. From the approximately 300 works at the grand opening, the collection now includes over 4,000 works of art.
This inventory ranges from a core collection of modernist works (dates 1920-1960), to special collections related to the Fluxus and COBRA movements, as well as the works comprising the sculpture park and the contemporary works acquired in the past 20 years.
Henie Onstad manages several large collections deposited or on loan from the DNB Savings Bank Foundation, as well as private collectors Inger and Andreas L. Riis, and Erling Neby. Henie Onstad frequently lends works from its collections to important international museums. Additionally, Henie Onstad manages a large archive, containing documents and photographs related to exhibition and performance history, and a collection of artists books. The Henie Onstad archive is of particular value because of the art center's long history of musical and performance art productions and its progressive interdisciplinary exhibition history.
Henie Onstad encourages research on its unique collection of archives.
For research inquiries regarding previous exhibitions, please contact Chief Curator, Caroline Ugelstad at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please allow for a 2 week response time.
Through individual purchases, gifts and donations from private supporters, including the Association of Friends of Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Henie Onstad has been able to develop the collection for several decades. Visionary directors at Henie Onstad cultivated close collaborations with both Norwegian and international artists, leading to several historically significant exhibitions and many generous donations.
The location of Høvikodden has provided inspiration for many new works of art over the years, many of which are often produced on site by artists on extended visits and residencies. The prominent Bulgarian-American artist, Christo, chose to exhibit drawings of his site-specific installation works four separate times at Høvikodden between 1974 and 1995. The Polish painter, Tadeusz Kantor introduced himself to the Norwegian public with a 15-meter-high outdoor chair and a Rembrandt-inspired indoor anatomy lecture during the Polish Art Today exhibit in 1971. Kantor returned some years later in 1976, to hold a solo art exhibit at the Kunstsenter.
In 1983, the experimental composer and artist John Cage worked at Høvikodden during weeklong stays in Oslo. In addition to concerts and lectures held for Norway's Academy of Music, Cage worked on several drawings at Høvikodden in this time, during which his portrait was also photographed by Tom Sandberg.
Through generous support from the DNB Savings Bank Foundation (Kunstgaven) 2011-2014, Henie Onstad was able to commission new projects (including three permanent outdoor sculptures) that are now in the collection by the following artists: Angel and Valerie Terez, Camilla Løw, Camille Norment, Lene Berg, Are Mokkelbost, Lea Porsager, og Marte Johnslien.
Henie Onstad preserves and develops the collection in keeping with the Kunstsenter's by-laws, and the international guidelines from ICOM
Kurt Schwitters Permanent Collection
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) is considered one of the most innovative and influential artists of the last century. He worked with multiple media, including sound, text, photography, architecture, sculpture, collage and painting. Schwitters' pairing of literature, music, visual arts and architecture was groundbreaking and by working across most art forms he was able to create an utterly unique form of expression with his "Total Art" (Gesamtkunstwerk).
The works displayed at Henie Onstad - many of which make direct references to Norway--are made up of deposits from the DNB Savings Bank Foundation, and from art loans from the Sprengel Museum in Hannove, in addition to works from the collection and from other public and private collections. The permanent exhibition will always present ca 30 works in different media such as painting, collage, artist books, assemblages and sculpture.
Henie Onstad established the Fluxus collection during the second half of the 1980s. Through its multidisciplinary history and close contact with the artist Ken Friedman, HOK was uniquely positioned to access this experimental milieu, which was known for its work across a variety of artistic media.
The Fluxus network arose at the beginning of the 1960s, and was active until the end of the 1970s. Their activities encompassed concerts, festivals and theatre productions, innovatively designed publications (including notations for electronic music), the distribution of objects, mail art and concrete poetry, as well as "happenings" and acts based on the everyday.
The name Fluxus is taken from the Latin word for "flow" and was originally employed by the leading Fluxus artist George Maciunas.
HOK's Fluxus collection contains large objects by Geoffrey Hendricks, Nam June Paik and Al Hansen, as well as the characteristic Fluxus notations, posters, programs, publications, screen prints, multiples and fluxkits. Large portions of these objects were donated to the Kunstsenter in 2007 by the Fluxus artist and professor Ken Friedman, and has been named the "Ken Friedman Fluxus Collection." Several individual artists have also donated Fluxus works in conjunction with Henie Onstad art exhibitions.
Jean Brown Personal Papers
In 2013, Henie Onstad expanded its Fluxus collection significantly through the acquisition of the "Jean Brown Personal Papers," a sizeable avant garde archive and study collection put together by the American librarian and collector Jean Brown (1911-1994).
The archive is based on publications, works on paper and artworks stemming from Dadaism and Surrealism, which were further developed in avant garde movements as well as the tendencies springing out of these, such as concrete poetry, mail art and Fluxus.
The archive was originally collected in Brown's home in Tyringham, Massachusetts, and was handed over to the Getty Research Foundation in the 1980s. However, Brown retained portions of the materials, including his personal archive of correspondence and it is this material which Henie Onstad now owns. Henie Onstad also acquired Fluxus leader Maciunas' custom filing cabinet, which was specially designed for Brown's archive at his home in Tyringham in 1975.
The Boyle Family Archives
Henie Onstad was one of the first institutions which began acquiring works from Mark Boyle (1934-2005) on a large scale. Boyle started his artistic career as a poet, but then continued on to work with assemblages, events and happenings, together with his partner Joan Hills and their children.
The British artist couple also collaborated with the band Soft Machine, which played at Henie Onstad in 1971, to which the couple contributed their modified light projections of film and slide projectors.
Høvikodden became a key place of work for Boyle and Hills. In the mid 1980s, "The Boyle Family Archive" was established at Henie Onstad, containing materials donated by the family.
Kåre Kivijärvi (1909-1998) held several prominent exhibits at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, including a large solo exhibition featuring 33 works in 1985. Henie Onstad thus helped Kivijärvi to become the first Norwegian photographer to win widespread acclaim as a photographer with his distinctive style, which he called "aesthetic new-realism," inspired by graphic arts.
The Hungarian-born, French abstract painter, Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) is regarded as the founder of Op Art, an artistic movement concerned with creating optical illusions from three-dimensional motions. Although Sonja Henie and Niels Onstad never collected his work in their lifetime, he was affiliated with Galerie Denis Renée in Paris, which showed several of the artists whom they championed.
Vasarely donated 82 works to Henie Onstad in 1993. The collection contains drawings, collages, screen prints and multiples produced throughout the period 1935-1982. The Vasarely collection shows the artist’s evolution, from the figurative motifs of the 1930s to completely abstract work, based on the systematic principles he experimented with during the 1960s, and through to his later work that exemplified Op Art’s experimentation with the material use of optical illusion.
Asger Jorn's close connection to Norway and Henie Onstad was such that he decided to donate a large selection of his works to Henie Onstad a few years before his death in 1973.
The artworks in this collection span the period from 1955 to 1972, and were specifically selected by the artist as pieces that represent his methods of working during the various periods. Gathered together, the collected works are an intriguing portrayal of the unique phases in Jorn's artistic production. He himself claimed to be primarily a painter and wanted his works in other media to be seen in relation to his paintings. Henie Onstad's Asger Jorn collection has continued to grow throughout the years from private donations and long-term loans from The Inger and Andreas L. Riis Collection.
Today Henie Onstad houses the country's most important collection of works by the COBRA artists, drawing great interest internationally.
The Erling Neby Collection
For over 40 years Erling Neby has built a collection focused on concrete and geometric art that can be characterized by simple, abstract visual forms. The collection includes classic works such as those by Jean Dewasne, Sergio Camargo, Eduardo Chillida, Victor Vasarely and Olle Bærtling, as well as those by a younger generation of Nordic artists. The collection is recognized both nationally and internationally. Henie Onstad currently manages a large portion of the collection, and periodically selects works to be shown in the Kunstsenter, whether with a focus on individual artists or in dialogue with Henie Onstad's collection.
The Inger and Andreas L. Riis Collection
On deposit from the Inger and Andreas L. Riis collection are 20 works by the Danish painter Asger Jorn. These are shown together with Henie Onstad Kunstsenter's own collection and contribute toward enhancing the COBRA collection at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. The collection is comprised of 14 paintings, the tapesty Caresse geologique, drawings and collages, and a large variety of graphic works. The 100th anniversary of Jorn's birth has generated considerable increased interest, and his work is frequently on loan to other institutions in Norway and abroad.
John Olav Riise
Henie Onstad Kunstsenter retains a rich collection of 200 works by the Norwegian photographer, John Olav Riise (1855-1978). Starting his work as a professional photographer in the early 1920s, Riise broke with the dominant traditions of the time, combining instead elements of cubism, surrealism and expressionism in his photographs.