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New Art and Science Exhibitions Open at the Bruce on February 1

Laurits Andersen Ring (Danish, 1854-1933), At the French Windows: The Artist’s Wife, 1897. Oil on canvas, 75.2 x 56.7 in. KMS 3716.

Following a five-month construction project, the Bruce Museum is pleased to reopen its newly expanded main art gallery with a major international exhibition: On the Edge of the World: Masterworks by Laurits Andersen Ring from SMK—the National Gallery of Denmark. Initiated by the American Friends of Statens Museum for Kunst, the national gallery of Denmark, the exhibition opens on Saturday, February 1, 2020, and will be on view through Sunday, May 24, 2020.​​

Opening in the newly renovated and enlarged science gallery is Under the Skinwhich highlights a dozen recent scientific discoveries through a combination of stunning imagery and real biological specimens.

The science exhibition, on view through July 19, 2020, showcases images made possible by a remarkable array of technologies – CT scanning, infrared and UV imaging, scanning electron microscopy, and more – that reveal the extraordinary beauty of nature that often lies just below the surface. All of the images presented in the exhibition, from a section of a dinosaur bone photographed in cross-polarized light, to a CT scan of a hog-nosed snake engorged with prey, were captured in the last five years, thus representing the cutting edge of modern imaging.

Museum members at the Patron level and above are invited to an Opening Celebration on Friday, January 31, 2020, 7:00 – 8:30 pm. An All Members Reception will take place on Tuesday, February 4, 5:30 – 7:00 pm. To RSVP or to join, contact Membership Manager Laura Freeman at 203-413-6764 or lfreeman@brucemuseum.org.

L.A. Ring (1854-1933), a Realist and Symbolist painter, ranks among the most significant figures in Danish art. The national gallery of Denmark holds the largest collection of Ring’s paintings and drawings. On the Edge of the World showcases 25 of his most important paintings, which represent the key themes, sheer variety, and complexity of his work. The exhibition travels to only two U.S. venues. The Bruce Museum is the only one on the East Coast.

Speaking about this first exhibition outside Scandinavia to be solely devoted to L.A. Ring, Mikkel Bogh, Director of SMK, says: “It is part of our mission at SMK to inspire and spark creative thinking by making the art of our collection known to a wider audience, which includes audiences outside the Nordic region. L.A. Ring was a sensitive and profound interpreter of the changing conditions of human existence at the threshold of modernity, in Denmark and elsewhere. We believe his painting has an appeal to U.S. audiences and that his works, while embedded within specific geographic and historical circumstances, speak to us today in a powerful artistic language that matters as never before.”

Laurits Andersen Ring was born into a smallholder family in the village of Ring in Southern Zealand, Denmark. As an artist, he never distanced himself from his humble origins. The two central themes of his art were the everyday struggles of ordinary people and the Danish landscape. Ring’s work reflects the great upheavals taking place in society and art in the decades around 1900. The processes of industrialization caused major changes in the labor market; new enterprises flourished, and people moved from the country to the cities, especially the burgeoning capital, Copenhagen. Denmark was on the way to becoming a modern society, and Ring was part of a larger effort by painters, authors, and theorists to create a uniquely Danish language of modernism.

Ring’s paintings capture this changing world, poised between traditional values and modernism. His early Symbolist paintings of people at work in the landscape are quiet and still, meticulously organized, and yet charged with a strong feeling of spirituality.

By the 1890s, Ring was regarded as Denmark’s greatest landscape painter. Landscape had deep symbolic associations at the time. Redistribution of the land at mid-century meant that Denmark changed from a society dominated by powerful landowners whose fields were tilled by serfs to one of smallholders who owned their own land. The land came to be seen as belonging to the people, and therefore to have an almost sacred, national aspect. Ring’s landscapes, rendered in a reduced color palette, capture a vast sense of space with remarkable precision and detail, bathed in crystalline northern light. His paintings of the Zealand topography come to form personal, atmospheric landscapes of the soul.

On the Edge of the World will be accompanied by a series of lectures and special programs, beginning with a Conservator’s Talk: Aspects of L.A. Ring’s Working Methods, on Sunday, February 2, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm. Dr. Jørgen Wadum, former Director of Conservation at SMK and current Director of the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation in Denmark, will discuss how an examination of the complex structure of materials and techniques beneath the visible “skin” of Ring’s paintings reveals fascinating details of the artist’s intent. This talk is free to Museum members and visitors with paid admission. Reservations are required; visit this page at brucemuseum.org or call 203-869-0376.​

Hog-Nosed Snake with Prey, CT Scan. Image courtesy of Dr. Ed Stanley and Dr. David Blackburn.