Inspiration - Iconic Works: Nationalmuseum, Stockholm and Ateneum Art Museum

20 February - 20 March 2020
Group Exhibitions

How have international contemporary artists been inspired by the classics of European art? And why is it these works, in particular, that have become known around the world? Inspiration – Iconic Works presents art that draws inspiration from iconic masterpieces, created by today’s contemporary artists. A selection of works from Nationalmuseum's and the Atheneum Art Gallery's vast collections are displayed in dialogue with contemporary art objects.


Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (20 February - 17 May 2020)


 *** Nationalmuseum will be closed until April 14  ***

Due to the situation with the new coronavirus Nationalmuseum has decided to temporarily close, starting March 20. Preliminary, the museum will remain closed until April 14. All public activities such as lectures, public tours, school tours, workshop activities and booked group tours have already previously been cancelled. The restaurant in the museum will close as well. While the museum is closed, we wish to offer you digital experiences of art. Please follow us in social media and check out the web site. We look forward to meeting you when the museum opens again.

Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki (19 June - 20 September 2020)

Inspiration - Iconic Works

Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2020

The building blocks of the visual DNA of Western art can be traced back to a number of iconic works, so-called signature pieces that have strong relevance in today’s world from the sculptures of antiquity to the Mona Lisa and Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker– just to mention some of the examples. Interestingly, the art historical narrative was shaped hand-in-hand with the collection and display practices of 19th-century museums in Europe and these signature pieces play a leading role in the story of art no matter if we look at the earliest art historical publications or the latest versions on the same issue.


Inspiration – Iconic Works tells the story of the signature works: what they were, where they emerged and why and how they have influenced the contemporary art scene. 


The exhibition features works by artists Marina Abramovic, Paul Benney, Patricio Bosich, Glenn Brown, Rob & Nick Carter, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Mat Collishaw, Freddy Fabris, Nancy Fouts, Susanne Gottberg, Stephane Graff, Henry Hudson, Tom Hunter, Henrik Jonsson, Mark Karasick, Rachel Kneebone, Ola Kolehmainen, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, Heikki Marila, Hynek Martinec, Sara Masüger. A selection from Nationalmusum’s vast collections of paintings, plaster casts, drawings, and applied arts is presented in dialogue with contemporary art.


A major publication, edited by Dr. Susanna Pettersson will accompany the exhibition.


The exhibition is curated by Susanna Pettersson, Director General, Nationalmuseum and James Putnam, curator, London.


The curators of the show are Dr. Susanna Pettersson, art historian and director general, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, and James Putnam, museum historian and independent author curator, with Sointu Fritze, chief curator, Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery as co-curator. A major catalogue and conference program will accompany the exhibition.