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Kristian Zahrtmann: 'Adam in Paradise', 1914. Private collection
Kristian Zahrtmann: 'Adam in Paradise', 1914. Private collection

Kristian Zahrtmann. Queer, Art and Passion

5 February – 30 August 2020

Kristeligt Dagblad

Kristian Zahrtmann (1843–1917) was an artist, educator and man about town. He painted strong historical female figures and beautiful, muscular men, creating colourful scenes infused with an evident joy in narrative. Several of his depictions of male nudes were on the brink of causing a scandal. At the same time he experimented with how to present himself in everything from self-portraits to the interior design of his home – and as a media-savvy celebrity.

The exhibition Kristian Zahrtmann. Queer, Art and Passion applies new, current perspectives on Kristian Zahrtmann and those aspects of his art that can be termed ‘queer’ today – in the sense of actions that challenge fixed beliefs about gender and sexuality, or as a communal term for people who do not see themselves in terms of society’s established norms of gender, sexuality and identity. Kristian Zahrtmann had many friends, but we do not know if he had a love life. He never spoke of his own sexuality, but several of his paintings contain clear homosexual themes. The exhibition uses the term queer to point to the unexpected and challenging elements of Zahrtmann’s art.

Through artworks, furniture, photographs and artistic objects gathered from Danish museums and private homes, the exhibition takes a new look at the artist’s visually appealing and challenging artworks by introducing Zahrtmann as a queer artist operating on the brink of established norms, going against the grain of ‘good taste’.

The exhibition is created in collaboration with Ribe Kunstmuseum and Fuglsang Kunstmuseum. The presentation activities and educational materials aimed at schools are developed in collaboration with LGBT+ Danmark.

The exhibition is accompanied by a range of peer-reviewed articles published on the digital journal Perspective and a small presentation booklet available from the museum shops.

The exhibition is supported by

15. Juni Fonden, Arne V. Schleschs Fond, Augustinus Fonden, Beckett-Fonden, Bestles Fond, Bikubenfonden, Dronning Margrethe og Prins Henriks Fond, Knud Højgaards Fond, Kulturministeriets Forskningsudvalg (KFU), Lemvigh-Müller Fonden, William Demant Fonden.