REDEFINES HOTEL ART
Sune Nordgren is passionate about creating new spaces to experience art – outside the context of museums. Meet THE THIEF’s own art curator.
– In museums and galleries the public have actively sought out art and bring with them a set of expectations. In a hotel the guests are less prepared and experience the work on other terms. I think that is incredibly exciting and challenging, says Sune Nordgren.
The Swedish curator has lengthy experience of international-class galleries. Here in Norway many people remember his committed and controversial period as director of The National Museum, where he attracted attention for challenging the museum space.
Now Nordgren is back in Oslo on an assignment for THE THIEF. Every single one of the 120 rooms and suites is decorated with a hand-picked piece from THIEF ART, an eclectic collection of contemporary art built up by Nordgren himself, with artists such as Sir Peter Blake, Magne Furuholmen, Albert Merz, Olav Christopher Jenssen, Camilla Løw and Kjell Nupen.
– We choose from established international artists and the best Norwegian ones, primarily in photography and graphic art. This is possible because the hotel does not have more than 120 rooms.
In communal areas such as the reception, the roof terrace and lift Nordgren promises sensory impressions and aesthetic experiences. British contemporary artist Julian Opie, who works with digital surfaces, is behind one of the works made especially for THE THIEF.
– The term ‘hotel art’ has been associated with bad taste, mass production and random positioning. Redefining hotel art is about giving the guests quality experiences, causing reflection and perhaps changing their perception of reality for a brief moment?
At THE THIEF art has been integrated into planning from an early stage.
– It is ideal when the curator, architect and interior designer can work together. The result will gradually materialise in the months leading up to the opening, Nordgren says.
At the same time as Oslo’s new arts district takes shape outside the hotel’s windows.
Atmosphere & attitude
– It is incredibly exciting to follow developments on Tjuvholmen. The new Astrup Fearnley Museum, THE THIEF’s nearest neighbour, will become a greater attraction for Norway than The Munch Museum, Nordgren predicts.
– The museum’s connection with the fjord, Renzo Piano’s elegant architecture and a world-class programme of exhibitions have a magnetic force for both the public and the art world. Five or six of Norway’s best galleries have already moved in on Tjuvholmen and this creates a completely new atmosphere. It can be compared with the energy which was generated when the Tate Modern was established on Bankside in London, where restaurants, cafés and galleries popped up and created a completely new environment. People with the same interests and needs being able to meet on foot in pedestrianised streets has a fantastic bonus effect and creates synergies which make me think of Venice.
THE THIEF and Astrup Fearnley have entered into a unique sponsorship agreement which means that THE THIEF can borrow signal works from the museum’s collection and exhibit them in strategic locations in the hotel.
– I will be choosing art works in partnership with the management of the museum, Nordgren points out. – And with the collection they have they are going to be something remarkable!
– It is highly unusual for a hotel to go in and sponsor an art museum in this way,” Nordgren continues. “But in this case the partners are seeking to find a symbiosis which both can benefit from. As we want to redefine the concept of ‘hotel art’ a partnership with the Astrup Fearnley Museum is perhaps the clearest signal we can give. It demonstrates an ambition to keep quality very high.
Nordgren believes that THE THIEF will become an important meeting place for both the local area and visitors from all over the world.
– Art will be an important identity carrier for THE THIEF, while the hotel will also become an extension of – yes, it will almost emphasise – the atmosphere on Tjuvholmen.