The collection

Do you collect anything? ARKEN collects art — more specifically contemporary art. Art created in our own time. Art that promotes conversations about life. Art that surprises you, moves you and opens up new worlds. We collect the best Danish and international contemporary art to make it part of our shared cultural heritage, also for future generations.

The collection is a kaleidoscope of artistic expressions and media. If you want to stand under a luminous rainbow, say hello to a flock of horseshoe crabs in the beach park, or explore the worst traumas and conflicts of our time through the beautiful wings of a butterfly, you've come to the right place.

With our permanent collection we also want to shine a spotlight on ethnic diversity and gender representation. Most museum collections have a historical bias when it comes to diversity and gender representation. And this includes ARKEN. However, we are doing our very best to ensure that our collection reflects the society we live in. We're not quite there yet, but we're getting close.

You can always experience parts of our you visit ARKEN.

Karolin Schwab, My Floating Home, 2020
Karolin Schwab, My Floating Home, 2020

Karolin Schwab

My Floating Home, 2020

Do you know the feeling of losing your footing? Of how hard it can be to feel at home? Karolin Schwab's floating house stands in the middle of the lagoon that surrounds ARKEN. The house has no walls or furniture. The roof is the sky, and the floor is the flowing water. Nothing stands still. It is up to you, your imagination and the surrounding landscape to fill the empty house with meaning. In a world in constant movement, how do you stand firm on shaky ground?

Laure Prouvost, We Will Feed You Together Fountain (For Global Warming), 2019
Laure Prouvost, We Will Feed You Together Fountain (For Global Warming), 2019

Laure Prouvost

We Will Feed You Together Fountain (For Global Warming), 2019

A fountain is a beautiful, cool oasis in a lush garden. The pinnacle of beauty and rejuvenation. Can you think of a more refined interpretation of nature's life-giving spring? At ARKEN, the water trickles merrily from a bountiful bouquet of glass breasts in pinks and browns, flowing into the fountain's basin surrounded by lush green plants. The female body - symbol of the forces of nature and fertility - is transformed into a surreal, suckling fantasy creature in its own ecosystem.

Peter Holst Henckel, World of Butterflies, 2002
Peter Holst Henckel, World of Butterflies, 2002

Peter Holst Henckel

World of Butterflies, 2002

Butterflies are associated with beauty, transformation and rebirth. But take a closer look at their beautiful wings. Suddenly, images emerge from historical events: the 1973 coup d'état in Chile, the student uprising in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989, and the terrorist attacks in New York in 2001. All 68 butterflies in the series are linked to political events that have taken place where each species lives. What is beautiful at first glance becomes gruesome. A transformation has taken place.

Mona Hatoum, Sous tension, 1999
Mona Hatoum, Sous tension, 1999

Mona Hatoum

Sous tension, 1999

Refugee by accident. Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut, Lebanon. In 1975, as a young woman, she travelled on holiday to London. But civil war broke out and suddenly she couldn't return home. She was cut off from home — symbolized by a kitchen, the traditional domain of women. But in Hatoum's kitchen, danger and conflict lurk. The floor is covered with graters and herb choppers like sharp, electrified creepy crawlies. Take care you don't get shocked.

Elmgreen & Dragset, Powerless Structures, Fig. 101, 2012
Elmgreen & Dragset, Powerless Structures, Fig. 101, 2012

Elmgreen & Drawset

Powerless Structures, Fig. 101, 2012

Play for life! A boy on a rocking horse welcomes you to ARKEN, beckoning you into the ARKEN's forecourt. Six feet tall and cast in bronze, like a genuine equestrian statue. Only Elmgreen & Dragset's equestrian statue would rather celebrate play and imagination than victory and power in war. It is a witty and sharp critique of society's power structures by the Danish-Norwegian artist duo.

Anselm Reyle, Carriage Wheels, 2009.
Anselm Reyle, Carriage Wheels, 2009.

Anselm Reyle

Debitis esse nihil porro reprehenderit voluptatem con

An old wagon wheel on the wall lit up in gorgeous colours. Reflective metal foil behind coloured plexiglass. Leaping dolphins and colours in a controlled flow across the canvas. Anselm Reyle's paintings and sculptures are dazzlingly beautiful or shameless clichés, depending on who's looking. The large formats, the perfect workmanship and the seductive colours and materials raise questions such as: Can cheap scrap become precious art? And do we prefer to be pandered to or provoked by the art we experience?

Candice Breitz, Stills from Love Story, 2016. With Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. Interviewed: Sarah Ezzat Mardini. Courtesy Goodman Gallery, Kaufmann Repetto and KOW
Candice Breitz, Stills from Love Story, 2016. With Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. Interviewed: Sarah Ezzat Mardini. Courtesy Goodman Gallery, Kaufmann Repetto and KOW

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2016 (uddrag). Courtesy Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), Kaufmann Repetto (Milan) og KOW (Berlin)

Love Story, a video installation by Candice Breitz, examines how identification and empathy are produced. The work is based on the personal narratives of six people about fleeing their country due to various oppressive conditions: Sarah Ezzat Mardini, who fled war-torn Syria; José Maria João, a former child soldier from Angola; Mamy Maloba Langa, a survivor of rape from the Democratic Republic of Congo; Shabeena Saveri, an Indian trans person and activist; Luis Nava Molero, a political dissident from Venezuela; and Farah Abdi Mohamed, a young atheist from Somalia. The work provides insight into the global scale of the refugee crisis. It is based on extensive video interviews with the six people recorded in the cities where they are seeking or have been granted asylum (two interviews took place in Berlin, two in New York and two in Cape Town). Candice Breitz's ambitious video installation 'Love Story' was a highlight at the Biennale Arte in Venice in 2017, and thanks to generous support from the New Carlsberg Foundation, the work is now part of ARKEN's collection.

Vinyl terror & -horror, THE MAGIC OF, 2018. Photo by Lea Bolvig
Vinyl -terror & -horror, THE MAGIC OF, 2018. Photo: Lea Bolvig

Vinyl-terror & horror

Camilla Sørensen and Greta Christensen

The jumble of cables and tech, sound and smoke hides a broader context: in reality, this work presents two versions of the same composition. The original composition consists of sound fragments from vinyl records, which the artists have cut up and reassembled in new constellations. In this way, the composition incorporates an extensive remix of sound from various eras and genres of music such as opera, German schlager and classical music and even disturbing sounds taken from horror films. The new composition is subsequently transcribed onto sheet music and recorded by an ensemble. In the video collage shown in connection with the installation, the performing musicians alternately step in and out of the picture. With precision and timing, the two versions of the composition play synchronously, while the installation's wealth of hi-fi equipment, video sequences and sculptural setups both play and visualise the composition, inviting the guest to move around and experience the installation's movement, light and sound systems. The contrasting transformation from the original composition of cut-up records to the instrumental recording is evident. At the same time, the two versions complement each other in the exhibition, where the two soundtracks can be followed in parallel. The title of the work reflects the artists' reuse of older vinyl records. In THE MAGIC OF the artists have borrowed from an album by English organist Reginald Dixon: The Magic of Reginald Dixon (Organ Favourites From “Mr. Blackpool”), from which the artists also extract sounds.

Sarah Lucas, Got a Salmon On in the Street #3, 2001
Sarah Lucas, Got a Salmon On in the Street #3, 2001

Sarah Lucas

Got a Salmon on in The Street #3

Through her self-portraits, Sarah Lucas challenges sexual stereotypes and gender representations. She deliberately portrays herself as a hermaphrodite, wearing big boots, jeans and a T-shirt, and she poses more as a man than as a woman. In Got a Salmon on in The Street #3, Lucas stands on a street, holding up a large photograph of a naked man's lower body. The man is covering his crotch with a squirting can of beer, which he is in the process of opening. The work's ambiguous title illustrates Lucas' penchant for visual jokes. “Salmon” is English slang for the woman's sex, while “got a salmon on” is a paraphrase of “got a hard-on” referring to a man's erection. The title is therefore a juxtaposition of male and female sexuality — exactly like the person on the street who appears as a mixture of male and female. Got a Salmon on in The Street #3 is a critique of a joke, but is also a witty comment in itself. Lucas brilliantly mixes the witty, the sarcastic, the sexual and the inappropriate in her portrayal of an alternative female identity.

Wolfgang Tillman, Last Still Life, New York, 1995
Wolfgang Tillman, Last Still Life, New York, 1995

Wolfgang Tillmans

Last Still Life, New York, 1995

Wolfgang Tillmans maintains the fleeting moments in his highly personal and vulnerable photographs. The German photographer has portrayed famous musicians and cultural personalities, depicted the nightlife of the club scene and shot fashion campaigns. But he also documents his life as though his images were a diary. Intimate photos of his friends, fruit and cigarette butts on a windowsill, flowers and landscapes. Everything is equally significant, and everything has potential when Tillmans aims his camera lens at it. By allowing the motifs to speak for themselves, Tillmans encourages us to understand his images on a personal level. Fruit on a windowsill can call to mind art history's classic, lavish displays of perishable fruit and flowers that remind us how beautiful and ephemeral life is. Tillmans' motifs are humble, but they share the same sensibility. A raw and romantic approach to an everyday scenario from a kitchen windowsill, without it being elevated to more than it is.