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Blog: The Wånas Foundation

July 20, 2009 /

Knislinge, Sweden

By Kirsten Kiser, Editor-In-Chief, arcspace.com

Since 1987 Wanås has presented contemporary international art with a focus on sculpture and site-specific installations... A combination of art, nature and history.

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Photo courtesy Warnås Foundation

Drove from Copenhagen across the Øresund Bridge to Sweden, then through the countryside for a couple of hours to arrive at Wanås for a long, long overdue visit.

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Photo: © Øresundsbro Konsortiet

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Photo: arcspace

Wanås is a magic place consisting of a Danish medieval castle, an organic farm and an impressive international sculpture park. Art is also exhibited in stables and barns from the 18th and 19th century. Apart from yearly exhibitions the art collection contains approximately 40 permanent installations by renowned artists.

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Photo: arcspace

Jene Highstein
Grey Clam, 1990

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Photo: arcspace
Per Kirkeby
Wanås, 1994

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Photo: arcspace
Jason Rhoades
Frigidaire (Cold Wind), 1996

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Photo: arcspace
Thom Merrick
Whitney Outhouse of American Art, 1996

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Photo: arcspace
Roxy Paine

Impostor, 1999

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Photo: arcspace
Dan Graham
Two Different Anamorphic Surfaces, 2000

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Photo: arcspace
Robert Wilson

A House for Edwin Denby, 2000

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Photo: arcspace
Ann-Sofi Sidén
Fideicommissum, 2000

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Photo: arcspace
Antony Gormley
Together and Apart, 2001

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Photo: arcspace
Jenny Holzer
Wanås Wall, 1.8 kilometers long with quotes, 2002

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Photo: arcspace
Jenny Holzer
A relaxed man is not necessarily a better man...

In 2004, Maya Lin did a major outdoor project, 11 Minute Line, a 1500-foot long earth drawing. The first installation made outside the Park, this project truly utilized the assets and opportunities, time and space, available at Wanås. Comprising a serpentine line slipped into the ground in a field where the cows graze, 11 Minute Line is a very a playful piece - a simple drawing on which the visitors can walk.

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Photo courtesy Wanås Foundation
Maya Lin
11 Minute Line, 2004

Melissa Martin's Dining Room, located in the woods, is the skeleton outline of a dining room, replete with table, chairs, windows, a door - all rendered in unadorned wood - and a fireplace, made of brick.

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Photo: arcspace
Melissa Martin
Dining Room, 2006

Current exhibition:

WANÅS 2009: Footprints

The exhibition is on view through October 25, 2009

The exhibition, WANÅS 2009: Footprints, addresses man's relationship to nature. Art has a voice beyond that of politics and science, and can therefore add new perspectives to the environmental debate.

Tue Greenfort (Denmark) works with science inspired methods and interdisciplinary openness. He is specifically interested in how man is changing the environment and in questions agriculture and cultivated nature.
Wanås Gods AB is today one of Northern Europe's largest producers of organic milk. When the cows are milked the average temperature is 38 degrees, it is the immediately cooled to 4 degrees before being transported to the dairy. The surplus heat is used to heat up the stable floor and water through a heat exchanger. Greenfort observes this phenomenon in Milk Heat, an artwork that lets visitors experience the fresh milk's heat through a conventional radiator placed outside the stable.

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Photo: arcspace
Tue Greenfort
Milk Heat, 2009

Tomas Saraceno (Argentina) has developed the visionary project Air-Port-City since 2000. The idea stems from a conviction that we have to find more ecologically sustainable living arrangements in order for our planet to survive. Saraceno proposes lifting our dwellings a few kilometers up in the sky, in order to stop the exploitation of our planet's resources. His flying gardens at Wanås are composed of three transparent bodies that sway between the trees, shimmering in the sun. Hundreds of plants cling along the outside of the work. All belong to the Tillandsia family (Spanish moss), a group of rootless plants that gather nutrients from the air through their leaves.

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Photo: arcspace
Tomas Saraceno
Air-Port-City, 2009

Other artists in the exhibition are: Henrik Håkansson (Sweden), Tea Mäkipää (Finland) with Halldór Úlfarsson (Iceland), and Nilsmagnus Sköld (Sweden). The exhibition is curated by Elna Svenle & Marika Wachtmeister.

An illustrated exhibition catalogue with texts about all artists and their works is available in the Wanås Shop.

Since Wanås began exhibiting art in 1987 art has required more space for large-scale and site-specific projects. The combination of artists seeking these new larger venues and an estate looking for a role in contemporary society formed the base of the Wanås exhibitions. The Wanås Foundation was founded in 1995 to meet the growing institutional needs of the exhibitions.

If I had to choose one word to characterize the Wanås Foundation it would be flexibility - something we all strive to maintain in the organization in order to remain true to our initial goals and focus on site-specific installations. As director of the Wanås Foundation, I realize more and more that running an art institution is about vision and choices. I have always been aware of the risk of maturing in many different phases of life. The endeavor to retain the energy and flexibility of the organization is of major importance when working with contemporary artists. The privilege of working closely with artists and experiencing totally new ideas is fantastic and exhilarating. The twenty years spent building an art institution from scratch has taught me that all art venues are best served if the choices of artists, programs, and budgeting are bold. Society is not yet ready to give art and culture priority. Everyone in our field has to struggle very hard. As individuals we are on earth to use our time and our talent to the best of our ability. As art institutions we should always do the same. The motto of the Wanås - Foundation for the next years is to do things better not bigger./Marika Wachtmeister, Director of the Wanås Foundation


The book Wanås historia includes essays which portray the historical developments from various perspectives. Its rich image material visualizes the history of Wanås in dialogue with the contemporary art works. Order at the Wanås shop.

Wanås Foundation

Spend the night at near by Pappersbruket , the newly restored Paper Mill and largest timber-frame house in the north.

On the way back to Copenhagen I stopped in Malmø to visit the Turning Torso by Santiago Calatrava.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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