I’m still a bit overwhelmed after my visit to the JHQ exhibit in Denmark. I knew it would be great, and I knew I’d learn a lot, but I was not prepared for such a dramatic experience. I’m not the typical visitor to the museum. I guess an archaeologist has different criteria visiting a natural history museum. But I really enjoyed myself, as would the Quistgaard novice.
First of all the Heart Herning Museum of Contemporary Art is an architectural wonder. Designed by American architect Stephen Holl, it is a dramatic building in an area outside of Herning. The surroundings are kind of like an office park, but in a nice, cute Danish architectural way. There is a whole book about the museum and the building, so I’ll just say it is impressive.
The exhibit itself is broken into 4 rooms that look into different aspects of Quistgaard’s life. Each room has boldly colored walls illustrated with JHQ quotes, a great layout, and a variety of pieces carefully chosen to illustrate the man’s work. Some pieces are common, but many are very rare, one of a kind pieces. There are prototypes, drawings, and and artwork from his own hand throughout. You aren’t supposed to touch, but you can get right next to everything to really examine the materials and the workmanship.
The first room shows the depth and breadth of the man’s work, from jewelry, to the pepper mills, to a small dinghy he sailed around his private island. In the second room you find an elaborate re-creation of his personal workshop, moved piece-by-piece from the home he built to the museum. There is art and prototypes everywhere, and you get a glimpse into his how he did his work. Room 3 shows how his products became so popular, focusing on different areas of his work in detail. It also has a slide projection of an early illustrated marketing guide created by none other than Andy Warhol for Dansk. The last room wraps it up with more studies of his work, including furniture and an entire staircase he created – amazingly elaborate in its design.
After the exhibit be sure to have lunch at the cafe, check out the Per Kirkeby exhibit, and pick up a copy of the Quistgaard exhibit catalog in the gift shop. The substantial catalog features amazing photography of the key pieces as well essays by Stig Guldberg and myself.