When does art stop being art – and become nothing more than advertising? How far can and should companies go to borrow a kind of authenticity they can never create themselves?
Message in a Bottle is an attempt to recapitulate how the Swedish brand Absolut Vodka made use of themed advertisements and one-off artist commissions. What influenced the company to take a chance on famous and less famous names, and how did they manage the balance between art and advertising?
First, though, let us explain why a museum of spirits is showing art at all: In 2008, we became the owners of a large collection of art – the Absolut Art Collection. When the Swedish state sold Vin & Sprit AB, which included the Absolut Vodka brand, to France’s Pernod Ricard, it was determined that the art collection was of cultural and historical significance to Sweden and would not be included in the sale. Instead, its new home would be the Museum of Spirits.
The Absolut Art Collection consists of a total of 850 works created by 550 artists between 1986 and 2004. This year, it is 30 years since Andy Warhol signed his name to the first piece.
In paintings, posters, photos, sculptures, furniture and objets d’art, the artists interpreted a single motif, the vodka bottle.
Most of the works were reproduced in advertisements for Absolut Vodka in periodicals around the world. Many people have seen the ads. Few have seen the collection. Opinion on it is divided.
25.9 2015 – 3.4 2016
Powerful Babies: Keith Haring’s Impact on Artists Today brings together a diverse group of contemporary artists from across the United States and Northern Europe to celebrate the legacy of Keith Haring on the 25th anniversary of the artist’s death. Curated by Bill Arning, Director of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Rick Herron, New York-based independent curator, the exhibition reconsiders Haring’s career and achievements through new commissions, recent work, performances and events to highlight the ubiquitous influence Haring has had on contemporary artists working today.
From symbols to social practice, Haring’s influence reverberates throughout the contemporary art landscape in new and unexpected ways. Rather than engaging artists whose work merely mimics Haring’s style, the exhibition includes artists whose practices exemplify the innovation and veracity for which Haring is known, including his embrace of humor, dance and nightlife, issues relating to health and wellness, his artistic approach, social and political activism and the inspiration of kids.
6.2 2015 – 7.2 2016
Welcome to the beer-drinking country of Sweden, an unusual place where foul beer became fine and vice-versa. A beer is no longer just a beer, a brewer no longer just a brewer. Beer likers are turning into beer lovers, and the no-name pint is facing stiff competition. Enthusiasm for small-scale craft brewing is flowering along with the hops. Beer’s fans are legion. So too the breweries. Five years ago, there were 30. Today there are 150.
Modern beer’s defining characteristics are aroma and flavour, not alcohol content. Neglected beer styles are being revived, reinterpreted and given their rightful place in our gastronomy. Wine has had to cede some territory at the table, and the shops barely have enough shelf space for all the new products. IPA, APA, DIPA, IPL, Geuze, Lambic, Dunkel, Tripel, Trappist – the constantly expanding flora of beer is turning into a jungle that requires a guide. Bloggers discuss, analyse and chaperone those most eager to learn. And the thirst for knowledge is great. We want to know what we’re drinking, where the beer comes from, why it tastes the way it does. In the wake of the beer nerds, an even bigger wave is forming: a new Swedish beer culture.
In the Museum of Spirits’ beer exhibition, we touch base with Swedish brewing history, culture and trends. We talk brewing and meet brewers. You’ll have the opportunity to get to know various types of beer, malt and hops – smell them, learn them, guess which is which. Test your knowledge with our beer quizzes, book a beer tasting, and set up camp next to the taps in our restaurant.
Welcome to the show!
23.4 – 6.9 2015
Art and designed objects from the Absolut Art Collection 1985–1995, chosen and presented by the interior design duo, Simon & Tomas.
In a whirlwind of euphoria, money, creativity and desire, Absolut Vodka launched its first advertising campaign in 1986 with an artwork by Andy Warhol. The following decade witnessed an unprecedented number of original work commissioned from artists.
Absolut Vodka not only commissioned art but also a diversity of designed objects. The extensive range of the pieces in the exhibition exemplifies the unbridled optimism of the Eighties. Furniture, sculpture, glass, jewellery, nothing was excluded, no matter if it was abstract, conceptual or merely pastiche. Everything was possible.
The motto was to live in the here and now and to have a great life. People were consumed and thirsty for a quick and easy rush, banal enjoyment and instant satisfaction. Tomorrow is another day, everything was about the present moment, the consequence of one`s actions seemed aeons away.
The early nineties presaged a period of transition, a more moderate and mellowed expression, a slowing down, a moment of re-evaluation. “Community” made a comeback at the expense of the lonely, hedonistic, self- obsessed individual. Human rights, political freedom and increased environmental awareness gained precedence. The Eighties were fun while they lasted. In the end there is always a price to pay, for everything.
This exhibition has been a journey full of bittersweet reflections for us, both in our rolls as interior designers and guest curators, but also with our personal memories of being young men swept away by the Zeitgeist. We hope the art and the designed objects we have chosen from the Absolut Art Collection will express the variation and shift between the two contrasting decades.
Simon Davies & Tomas Cederlund
23 October 2014 – 6 April 2015
Traingone at the Museum of Spirits is the first major retrospective of Frank Bowling’s work shown in Europe outside the UK.
Frank Bowling, OBE and member of the Royal Academy of Arts, was born in 1934 in what was then the colony of British Guiana, moving to London in 1953. There he saw the works of great English painters like Gainsborough, Constable and Turner for the first time, which made an indelible impression on him and led him to a life of art. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1962, taking the silver medal for painting in his class (the gold went to David Hockney). Shortly thereafter, finding the London art scene too insular, he headed for New York – which opened up life-changing new vistas. He has continued to work in both cities ever since.
When Frank Bowling began his career, there was pressure on young black artists to be part of a figurative tradition communicating political messages. Though he started as a figurative painter, he quickly moved towards big abstract pieces that grew ever more complex, influenced by his interest in the principles of mathematics and symmetry. His entire working life has been a struggle to be acknowledged as an abstract painter within the trajectory of contemporary western art, and a refusal to represent anything else.
Starting in the early 1970s, colour became a central element of Frank Bowling’s painting. Traingone looks at selected works from 1979–96. His paintings from this period have a unique, lyrical presence that evokes a feeling of nature and landscapes.
Why Traingone? The exhibition takes its title from the painting Traingone (1996). Behind Bowling’s titles is often a story or a bit of wordplay linking the artwork to people, places and memories. The story behind Traingone relates to a memory of growing up in Guyana. Near a remote railway station, deep in the forest, where the trains stopped only briefly, there was an isolated hospital for lepers. Inmates often went to the station to peddle their goods, but frequently they didn’t make it before the train was off again – and the cry would go up, Train gone! The title also alludes to saxophonist John Coltrane, a.k.a. Trane (1926 –1967), whose music was ever-present in Frank Bowling’s studio.
Frank Bowling’s work has been exhibited at museums and galleries including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (1971) and the Serpentine Gallery in London (1986), as well as in a touring retrospective in the UK: Bowling Through the Century (1996). Tate Britain exhibited Frank Bowling’s “poured paintings” from the 1970s in A Focus Display (2012–13), and Traingone picks up where it left off.
His work is represented at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum (London).
In conjunction with the Frank Bowling show, a richly illustrated catalogue will be published with an introduction by Museum of Spirits curator Mia Sundberg and submissions by two invited journalists. Zoe Whitley is curator of contemporary British art at Tate Britain and curator of international art at Tate Modern. She is also a specialist in the contemporary art of the African diaspora. Mel Gooding is a critic, lecturer, professor and writer for the international art press. Gooding wrote the monograph on Frank Bowling that was published when the artist was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 2005.
Curator: Mia Sundberg
Assistant Curator: Alida Ivanov
Exhibition Design: Anna Heymowska
”Sweden – more pornography, more suicides, more alcoholism and more gonorrhoea every year”
Sign at a 1971 demonstration in London against the Swedish
sexual education film Language of Love.
Welcome to an exhibition on images of Sweden, spirits and sex. In collaboration with artist Peter Johansson, we get to grips with lust and vice, liberation and shame – with ”Swedish sin”, both the myth and the phenomenon.
The show will guide you through a labyrinth of ”peepholes” containing films, photos, newspaper cuttings and objects from the history of Swedish sin – from scandalous fifties art films like ”One Summer of Happiness” and ”Summer with Monika” to stealthily situated state liquor stores, ration books, birth-control pills, sexual education publications and condom vending machines, right up to the late 70s and the erotic cult classic ”Fäbodjäntan”.
In the 1950s and 60s, Swedish sin was a global phenomenon. Sweden became an emblem of sin and moral decline. But while the rest of the world was up in arms about the Swedes’ lax sexual morals, the Swedes had their plates full being ashamed of something else altogether – namely alcohol, for during this period, Sweden had one of the most restrictive alcohol policies
in the world.
Is Swedish sin still a going concern? How has it affected Sweden’s image, and Sweden’s image of itself? And does anybody really care, aside from the Museum of Spirits?
– 5.10 2014
The title of the exhibition is taken from Lady Gagas latest album from 2013, the cover of which is the result of a collaboration between the infinitely popular and controversial American singer and the artist Jeff Koons.
“Art Pop” is not an isolated event. Neither is it in any way a new idea. Ever since musicians discovered the aesthetic value of the record sleeve, an artwork in itself if you will, bands and singers have been inspired by artists. And, of course, vice-versa.
With Absolut Art Collection as a starting point, we have searched for those moments in the history of modern music when music and art have overlapped. The result is a journey from Andy Warhol’s early drawings for the covers of jazz records from the mid-1950s right up until today with Lady Gaga’s “ArtPop”. Along the way, you will encounter some truly iconic collaborations, many of which are etched into our collective pop-cultural memory, but also other more unexpected connections and common threads that we hardly knew of ourselves before we started digging deeper.
The sudden insight – and feeling of – “wow, what?” did he do that cover as well?” and “has she really worked with all these people?” is probably the most lasting and unexpected sensation that the exhibition “Art Pop” leaves us with.
Andres Lokko (music journalist and guest curator of Art Pop)
Spritmuseum’s first temporary exhibition is an installation entitled “Finally Friday”. Whether you look forward to cozying up on the sofa or spending the evening in the bar, Fridays are full of expectations. But things don’t always end up the way you planned. The installation consists of three rooms: Home, The Bar and The World of Dreams and Expectations. The experience of the different rooms is created individually and in the encounters between visitors. You can sit down on an interactive sofa, see what your dancing skills are like whilst sober and experience broken illusions.
We offer a range of wine tastings, but you can also choose among exciting new offers such as ”Flavours of Sweden”, ”Swedish whisky” and ”crafter”.Read more
Absolut Art Collection, in the care of Spritmuseum since 2008, consists of 850 works of art created by 550 artists between the years 1986—2004.Read more
“Sweden: Spirits of a Nation” is Spritmuseum’s major exhibition, focusing on the Swedes’ bittersweet relationship to alcohol. The exhibition is designed as a walk through the seasons of the year, given shape through sceneries, scents, tastes and music.Read more
With “Intoxicating Gardens: Cultivating Cocktails”, we seek to tell the story behind beverages and plants, behind the urge to till the soil and the tonic effects of cultivation on the soul. And of course of the drinks the garden inspires: organic homemade drinks, well‐made, attractive, appetising drinks (with or without alcohol), flavoured with what grows in forest, field and garden. Or in exotic places around the world.Read more.
Monday – friday 12.00 am – 2.30 pm
Saturday – sunday 12.00 am – 3.00 pm
Tuesday – saturday 6.00 pm – 10 pm
(last table reservation 8.00 pm)