A Model Society
Today was my day for hitting the art museums of Copenhagen. After a very nice breakfast, which had me wondering why the U.S. seems to be one of the only countries where most people are fine eating crappy bread, I headed out to buy a newspaper and a metro card.
Being in Copenhagen can easily damage one’s self-esteem; everyone here looks like a model. And not just any sort of model; they look like they would be at home in one of Calvin Klein’s (or Abercrombie & Fitch’s) more über Aryan-looking catalogues.
Trying not to feel too self-conscious about my middle-aged wrinkles and paunch, I got on the bus and quickly found my way to the State Museum of Art. I didn’t have high hopes but the museum blew me away with the richness of its collection. Sometimes, the juxtaposition of art and exhibitions could be dizzying, but I was more than pleased by what I saw. Some of the highlights: Matisse and Nolde, learning about the Danish Surrealist Wilhelm Freddie, and the pervasiveness of Danish pessimism in nineteenth-century Danish art.
Afterwards, I jaunted through the royal park and found myself in the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. It looked like they were setting up, and they were, but not for another hour. Still, I had some nice watermelon and rested a bit between museums.
Next up was the Danish Museum of Design. This was a somewhat oddly designed museum, and started slow, but had some real treasures. These include a rather comprehensive display of Danish chair design, some really nice pieces of porcelain, fantastic Japanese prints from the nineteenth century, and a nice café in a garden.
I rested up with a slice of raspberry almond cake and a café latte. The cake had a dense almond base, a coating of raspberry jam, some whipped cream with raspberry jam folded in, and a fresh raspberry on top. Quite refreshing. As the couple next to me got up to leave, the top slat of the chair came off. They were a little embarrassed so I joked that “it was poorly designed.” We all laughed.
As I left, I noticed I was close to a park called the Kastellet. This is the early modern defense fortifications protecting Copenhagen from the sea. I strolled around it, enjoying the nice summer day, and then caught the bus to my final museum of the day, the Glyptoteket. This is rather similar to the J. Paul Getty Museum in that it’s the collection of a wealthy man, the founder of Carlsberg beer, who liked ancient and European art.
I didn’t have a lot of time, so I raced to the French collection, which was small, but nice, and then breezed through the highlights of the ancient collection. I think their European art collection is definitely nicer than the Getty’s, while their ancient collection is more so-so.
Dinner was at Restaurant Puk, a few blocks from the hotel. I’ve arranged a taxi in the morning to take us to the airport for our flight home.