This summer, the National Nordic Museum received 943 Dines Carlsen drawings from the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
“This significant transfer will mark the National Nordic Museum’s largest acquisition to date,” said Executive Director Eric Nelson. “We are grateful to Newfields for making possible this expansion of our holdings related to an important Danish-American artist.”
The National Nordic Museum’s collection includes the works of Dines Carlsen (1901–1966), a celebrated still life painter who was a member of the National Academy of Design, as well as portraits of his father Danish painter (Søren) Emil Carlsen (1848–1932), who emigrated to the United States from Denmark.
Anna Stein, Assistant Curator of Works on Paper, determined that Newfields’ collection of sketches by Danish-American artist Dines Carlsen would be better served at the National Nordic Museum. Outside of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art in Washington D.C., the National Nordic Museum is the main repository of materials related to the Carlsen family.
“This corpus of drawings strengthens the National Nordic Museum’s holdings of art by Nordic-American artists. We are excited to welcome this sizeable gift into our collection,” said Leslie Anne Anderson, Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs at the National Nordic Museum. “We look forward to fostering discovery of Dines Carlsen and his graphic work through exhibitions and publications.” Anderson began her curatorial career at the IMA and has researched the work of Carlsen extensively. She presented her findings at the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study.
The transfer of the work is part of the Collection Assessment Project undertaken by IMA. Beginning October 2015, IMA curators have been physically and critically reviewing each item in their collection and ranking each piece as to its quality and importance to the overall art collection. The review has since informed future acquisition planning, judicious deaccessioning, and the transfer of works better suited to other institutions.
“We at Newfields are committed to responsible stewardship of our international art collection,” said Dr. Charles L. Venable, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO, “Through research and thoughtful transfers we are able to give new life to works that would otherwise languish in storage away from public view. Transferring this body of work by Dines Carlsen to the National Nordic Museum which specializes in work by Nordic and Nordic-American artists means these drawings will be studied and made available to the public.”
Since the beginning of the Collection Assessment Project the IMA transferred art to several institutions that can better use the works in their programming, including a transfer of contemporary glass to The Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass at Ball State University in Muncie, IN and examples of early American decorative art to the Indiana State Museum & Historical Sites in Indianapolis.
Image credit: Dines Carlsen (American, 1901–1966), Spire of Vor Frelsers Kirke, Copenhagen, 1928–1966, conte crayon on bond paper, 8-1/2 x 11 in. (sheet). Former collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields