National Autumn Exhibition (Statens Høstutstilling)

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National Autumn Exhibition (Statens Høstutstilling)
Kunstnernes Hus, Wergelandsveien 17 0167

If Norwegian contemporary art has its own special showcase and coronation ceremony, it would be the annual National Autumn Exhibition (Statens Høstutstilling) at the venerable Artists’ House in Oslo.

This year’s four-week celebration of Norwegian contemporary art is the 124th to be organized, after leading Norwegian artists in the 1870s and 80s came back to Oslo with new ideas and new vision, largely inspired by The Salon in Paris. After boycotting the Christiania Kunstforening art gallery and society, the artists decided to hold their own show to protest the established Oslo society’s purchasing and exhibition policies.

The society’s board was made up of public officials and the bourgeoisie but no artists. Virtually all well-known Norwegian artists have been part of the Autumn Exhibition. And even if it is not as inflammatory, controversial and ground-breaking as it was in the years that Edvard Munch (who debuted in 1882, a year after the first show) broke with traditional artistic forms and got the whole nation on his back, it is still a source of moral indignation and irritation. Not a year passes without someone saying the exhibition has outlived its purpose and should be terminated. But what do people do? Come back, year after year.

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