The last decade has seen growing interest in Palle Nielsen’s pioneering 1968 exhibition The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society. Nielsen today is internationally respected for his playground exhibition, a social-aesthetic artwork that was way ahead of its time.
International recognitionDocumentary material from the exhibition has been included in the collection of MACBA in Barcelona and shown at several international museums, most recently at MoMA in New York (2012) and Tate Liverpool (2013). Nielsen has also on occasion installed new versions of The Model outdoors in a reduced format, including in Utrecht (2009) and Paris (2013).
From playground actions to The ModelNielsen was born in 1942. He studied painting at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen from 1963-67, but his political views and interest in art as a tool for making connections between art and society took him in other directions.
In 1967, as artistic consultant to Høje Gladsaxe Municipality, Nielsen constructed a large, creative playground, Alsikemarken, featuring a hilly terrain, live animals and much more. The intention was to improve conditions for play in the alienating environment around modern public housing projects of the time.
The following year saw the first of a number of playground actions initiated by Nielsen in the narrow back alleys of Copenhagen’s Nørrebro neighbourhood.
The installation of The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in 1968 was followed in 1969 by The Balloon, an action playground near Västerås, Sweden, constructed from materials from The Model.
Research project and commissions
From 1969-71, Nielsen was a research fellow at the School of Architecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, working on a project about housing environments.
Nielsen later taught education, design and creativity and carried out several major commissions, including for Hvidovre Hospital (1975) and the Institute for the Blind in Hellerup (1989).