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Welcome to the new annex (gray thing, right side) for Liljevalchs, Stockholm’s Museum of Contemporary Art, an above-ground version of Berlin’s Fuhrerbunker, (circa 1943). Notice how well-harmonized and proportioned (not) every element between the two structures is — scale, cladding, fenestrations, ornament. Stockholm is a fine city, partly cute and partly sturdy in a thoroughly bourgeois sense (and ain’t nuthin wrong with bourgeois, if you want to be civilized). Stockholm is no Paris, of course in the sense of saturating beauty, but it’s comfortably far enough from the dynamic hyperbolic savagery of, say, New York, too. In short, Stockholm is dandy… the new museum annex, not so much.

The annex was designed by the Wingårdhs architectural office. It contains the museum shop (gotta move the merch!) and the cafe (coffee = nice profit margin), plus gallery space. Below is one of the gallery spaces as depicted on Wingårdhs’ website. Is it blank or is there an exhibition of white art up? Who knows? — since virtually all contemporary art is a stunt of one kind or another, usually a joke on the public. But one must admire the sense of artistic purity that seeks to display… nothing… just empty space. That may turn out to be the essence of the contemporary condition, and we will know soon enough because we are leaving the Modern era as I type. Bon voyage to the next disposition of the human project!

Thanks to Ray Sawhill for the nomination


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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

14 Responses to “September 2021” Subscribe

  1. Chippenhook September 2, 2021 at 3:36 pm #

    Do architectural schools only accept students who lack aesthetic sense?

    • Zoltar September 2, 2021 at 7:18 pm #

      As a parent of a kid who went to art school I can tell you that they must be able to craft a good line of bullshit to survive the program – whether or not they have actual artistic talent, and whether they believe their own spiel or not.

      It’s possible today to have a career crafting bullshit without making worthwhile art, but next to impossible to pull that off through artistic talent without the bullshit.

  2. davecydell September 2, 2021 at 11:41 pm #

    “I LOVE IT”

    “WE LOVE IT”

  3. tucsonspur September 3, 2021 at 5:11 am #

    The original building is stark and gloomy, looking more like it would be home for a public school or the public baths rather than a museum, with its concrete pilasters and bland run of bricks and factory like span of fenestration. Is there an indoor or rooftop pool anywhere, or hot steam for Swedes to swim and sweat? The elevation is not the best, but does do well to catastrophize the contrast between the older building and the new.

    The architectural style of the annex can best be described as minimalist pegboard modern, with a hint of the medieval atop. The unbalanced, singular window unsettles the eye and exposes the architect’s myopia. The staircase on the left just stutter steps into spoliation. Compare these grotesqueries to the neo-classical Gustavian.

    The blank, white room may hold the secrets to our future, and could transform visitors into ‘star children’ just as Dave Bowman was transformed in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The white room in that movie appeared to be decorated in French neo-classical style (Louis XV-XV1?), which Gustav adored, and so maybe he won’t be forgotten.

    It may be okay to live in Stockholm, but I wouldn’t want to visit. Well, maybe far, far down the itinerary. The savagery of NYC is quite often exaggerated, although at times it seems to be everywhere. Art museums are a great escape, and the city contains an abundance of awesome architecture.

    Yes, we are leaving the Modern era. Time passes. On exhibit at the annex will be the pure display of both time and space, because as we modernists know, they are joined at the quandary of the quantum level. Just think, to stand there and watch the fabled fabric! Will we enter the ‘cosmic egg’, and will we be able to bring our art with us?

  4. bymitch September 3, 2021 at 9:41 pm #

    The building on the left, is modern, the one on the right, only touches on the subject.
    The row house, 16:9 widescreens, and the screen filter, reference control mechanisms, that powerfully set the scene for the inside experience.
    This seems counter to the suggested neutral interior space objective, which is anything but neutral, by virtue of contrived skylighting effects.
    Pragmatics of the street level difference are managed, in unimaginative fashion, like, maybe it’s cool to be dismissive of real context.
    It clearly seeks to draw attention to itself, while pretending not to, making it more art, than architecture, in my opinion.
    I guess, that in an art environment, it is difficult to resist competing for a share of public artistic appreciation.

  5. zappalives September 4, 2021 at 6:22 pm #

    Thats a real humdinger there………in a Swedish meatball kinda way !

  6. tom clark September 5, 2021 at 10:52 pm #

    My guess is that the average age of a CFN viewer is over 60. Just sayin’ Gnite Kim.

  7. Ishabaka September 6, 2021 at 10:56 am #

    Is that a woman in an art museum, or a target in a first person shooter videogame?

  8. PeteAtomic September 8, 2021 at 9:12 pm #

    it’s poetic that the museum of contemporary art is simply an empty room. ’bout sums it up!

  9. gustavowoltmann September 12, 2021 at 7:03 am #

    This place is just so amazing. I too wish to visit Stockholm’s Museum of Contemporary Art as it impressed me a lot. But before that, I am thinking to show it to my country’s people. I am basically from Spain so I am going to take reference to the online blog article written by you and get it translated into Spanish. The translation services that I use is a very professional experience in their special and unique idioms that are trending now-a-days.

  10. JCalvertNUK September 13, 2021 at 8:24 am #

    Vines are urgently needed. Lots of vines.

  11. lateStarter September 17, 2021 at 9:43 am #

    My first impression was that the new addition was actually a maintenance shed where they keep the snow blowers and lawn equipment. You’d think they could have at least kept it out back and out of sight.

  12. dinorun September 23, 2021 at 12:03 am #

    If you don’t know the limit of your patience, The Impossible Game will help you do it!

  13. edpath October 29, 2021 at 7:04 am #

    i really appreciate this story and it provides me inspiration to write something on my own.i wish during school i had proper education advisors to guide me on what profession i should choose having an important education and life lessons can teach you alot about the future.