Moments of Clarity Janus La Cour and the New Image of Nature

17. November 2024 to 22. June 2025

Curated by  Florian Illies



Janus la Cour (1837–1909), who was born on the west coast of Denmark, deserves to be rediscovered – particularly in terms of his modernity. Known as a great hermit, he dreamt of a perfect painting during his first journey to Italy in 1867: an empty beach, wild and barren. From that point forward he sought out austere and lonely places among the mountains of Switzerland, in balmy Italy and, particularly, during his treks along the beaches of his native Århus, and he glorified them in his almost meditative art. These often serially conceived, deserted monuments to stillness remain fascinating today, not least because they record an endangered nature threatened with disappearance through Europe’s continuing industrialisation. In this way, the artist simultaneously emphasised his rejection of impressionist Paris, which he found as repulsive as any other city. He encourages us to stop and take pause.



The exhibition – developed by the MKdW in collaboration with the Nivaagaards Malerisamling in Nivå, Denmark – is centred around masterpieces from Christoph Müller’s Janus La Cour collection in Berlin, which are supplemented by loans from private collections as well as important Danish museums. The show’s scope is broadened through contemporary perspectives: the painters Per Kirkeby and Sven Drühl collected La Cour’s work themselves and have directly or indirectly engaged with it in their own art.



Fig: Janus la Cour, Sommerabend mit Flussmündung am Meer, 1892, © Aarhus Kommune, photo: Ole Hein Pedersen