Pia Schutzmann: Behind Amalienborg
Amalienborg is the Copenhagen residence of the Danish royal family, and the exhibition presents views from within the palace complex which are new to the public. Pia Schutzmann has enjoyed a long history of portraying members of the royal family, and the portraits are exhibited alongside paintings of Amalienborg’s private gardens, attics and basements.
The Queen’s Personal Invitation
Two years ago the artist told HM Queen Margrethe that she had once been in behind one of the royal palaces at Amalienborg, and how much it had fascinated her. Schutzmann later received a telephone call from the palace steward, who said that the Queen had asked him to show her around the inner courtyards and gardens. After the tour had finished, the steward asked a speechless Schutzmann how many years her access card should be valid for, and she was then given a card which in the following years granted her access to spend as much time as she wanted behind Amalienborg.
“The ball which the Queen thus had rolled over to me I now picked up. I spent the following two years in Amalienborg’s gardens and buildings. Using various artistic techniques, I have immersed myself in the many traces of the lives lived here.”
Life Behind the Walls
In the works which go behind Amalienborg, Schutzmann seeks out the hidden stories and the many layers of life in the old royal palaces. Her works, which simultaneously stop time and dissolve it, have a lyrical quality. It also becomes clear to the viewer that the artist has a particular ability to empathise and feel connected with the place. This is true from the gardens to the stone floor in Christian VII’s Palace and the loft, where Schutzmann has painted the old roof constructions in the dusky light.
The exhibition affords a very rare glimpse behind the walls, which have for more than 200 years marked the boundary between public and private space. Schutzmann was especially astonished by the quietude, which stood in stark and surprising contrast to the activity on the Palace Square. The artist’s primary interest is not, however, in the dual character of the place, nor solely in people portrayed who alive today, but just as much in the people who have lived here over the course of time:
“The feelings reside in the walls,” she says, and “the bodies have worn their marks into the buildings. It is their thoughts we read in the buildings, their presence we sense in the halls and corridors”.
Portraits of the Danish Royal Family
Schutzmann’s artistic journey with the Royal Family began in as early as 1982, when she portrayed Queen Ingrid. Apart from the portrait of Queen Ingrid, the exhibition also features the artist’s pencil drawings of HM Queen Margrethe, HM Queen Anne-Marie, and HRH Princess Benedikte respectively. In 2002 the Oxford and Cambridge University Club commissioned an oil painting of HM Queen Margrethe, which has been loaned for the exhibition. The painting is regarded as one of Schutzmann’s major works. The painting has an official character, with a gaze that befits her majesty, while the position of the fingers rouses art historical echoes. The opposite is the case with the other portraits, which are drawn with a more informal and private touch.
The fascination with lived life and Schutzmann’s breadth of media, is also felt in her imprint paintings of the granite flagstones in the kitchen in the basement beneath Christian VII’s Palace and in the garden collages. The collages are made up of humble objects such as snail shells, bottle tops, bird droppings, and twigs which the artist found in the gardens behind the walls. As with the portraits, architectural motifs, and imprint paintings, Schutzmann shows us in the collages new sides of the well known and adds another piece to the history of Amalienborg.
To accompany the exhibition the museum is publishing the catalogue “Pia Schutzmann: Behind Amalienborg” in Danish and English, written by art historian Christian Kortegaard Madsen, MA.
About the artist
Pia Schutzmann was born in Italy in 1940. Her father was Austrian, and her mother Danish. In 1941 her mother left her father and travelled with her little daughter on her arm through worn-torn Germany to Denmark, where she worked as an actor.
Schutzmann, who was educated at the Royal Danish Art Academy in Copenhagen, is amongst other things known as one of Denmark’s greatest living portraitists. She takes an experimental approach to her work and masters several graphic techniques, as well as the rubbing technique which is characteristic for her. Since the mid 1970s Schutzmann has also painted, and her fine colouristic sense is one of her strengths. Schutzmann has been associated with the artist group Koloristerne and has over the years taken part in numerous group and solo exhibitions. Her works are found in museums and institutions particularly in Denmark, but also internationally.