I have been getting around flat, compact Copenhagen on foot for the most part. I haven’t bothered learning the public transportation systems because most of what I have wanted to see is easily reachable on foot from the Vesterbro area where I’ve been staying. I toured the Parliament buildings and the Royal Reception Rooms at Christiansborg Palace. The Rooms were interesting to me because of a series of 17 modern tapestries woven in France to mark Queen Margrethe II’s 50th birthday. They are truly original and beautiful. Reportedly it took 60 weavers 10 years to complete them, just in time for the Queen’s 60th birthday.
The Danish Supreme Court is nearby and I thought it would be interesting to see what that looks like. I was intercepted by a receptionist as I walked in the door and told that it was closed to the public entirely. She did, however, provide me with a nice pamphlet which I haven’t read. It isn’t a matter of security as there is none at the door, other than the dragon lady. Keeping the public out of your highest court is likely more convenient for the justices but is nonetheless a mistake.
Today I took the train to the Louisiana Modern Art Museum in Humlebæk, about a 30 minute trip north from Copenhagen. It is located on the shore of the Øresund in an attractive setting that tries to use both interior and exterior spaces for its exhibitions. The museum is featuring a Picasso exhibition and I am beginning to wonder what the deal is. When I left Seattle there was a Picasso show at SAM. There was a Picasso exhibition in Florence and one at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Perhaps it is a testament to his stature and productivity that four separate museums I have visited are featuring works from various stages of Picasso’s career. I think though that a lot of what I have seen at these various museums has not been his best work, although each has some singular pieces. I was pleased to see The Charnel House at Louisiana. The Museum also has an impressive sculpture garden with several Henry Moore works, and works inside by Lichtenstein, Warhol, Rauschenberg and a large Grand Canyon painting by David Hockney. I liked an Audubon-influenced etching done by American Walton Ford.
To get to the museum you walk from the Humlebæk train station to the museum, which takes about 10 minutes, and allows you to see a bit of the sleepy little town.
It rained today and Copenhagen is pretty ripped up from winter and from multiple large public maintenance and construction projects on three of the public squares. People don’t drive much here, but are demon bicyclists. The main street in front of my hotel, Vesterbrogade, is never clogged with cars, even at what would be rush hour elsewhere.
I didn’t make it to Christiania, the squatters area that takes its cues from Amsterdam. The newspapers are full of stories about the biker gangs that allegedly run it behind the scenes. That and 3 year old Holger, “the little Dane,” who survived a night in the woods after ditching his parents who had cruelly put his coat on backward.
Added April 4: Here is a picture from the Life archive of King Frederik IX of Denmark, the current Queen’s father. I am including it for no reason other than the fact that it shows a sitting monarch taking off his shirt, sucking in his gut, and proudly displaying his numerous tattoos for magazine cameras.
If I had to be saddled with a monarchy, this is how I would want them to behave.