Bjarne Melgaard

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Bjarne Melgaard (born 9 September 1967) is a Norwegian artist based in New York City. He has been described as "one of Norway's most important artists"[1] and, following the 2014 publicity about his sculpture, Chair, "the most famous Norwegian artist since Edvard Munch."[2]

Life and work[edit]

Melgaard was born in Sydney to Norwegian parents, raised in Oslo, Norway, and works and lives in New York.[3] Early in his career Melgaard created controversial installations referencing subversive subcultures such as S&M and heavy metal music.[4] Currently, his practice consists of an emphasis on expressionistic paintings and drawings, often containing text.[5]

Melgaard studied at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts, Rijksakademie in Amsterdam from 1991 to 1992 and at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht from 1992 to 1993.

His first show in New York was in 2000, where he exhibited sculptures of apes engaged in sex acts.[2] Melgaard moved permanently to New York in 2009.[2]

In January 2014 his fibreglass artwork, Chair, sparked controversy when a picture was published of it on a fashion website. The chair appeared to be a black woman on her back with the seat cushion supported on her thighs. Magazine owner Dasha Zhukova (who is white) was pictured sitting on the cushion. After angry accusations of racism the picture was withdrawn. Melgaard has created it as a reinterpretation of a similar chair by British pop artist Allen Jones, and intended it to be a comment on gender and racial politics.[6][7] Gallery director Steven Pollock said "Acceptance is not the goal and he doesn’t subscribe to the European politically correct attitude of placating cultural expectations. He’s certainly not racist, and used to have a black boyfriend."[2]

Notable exhibitions[edit]





  • Bjarne Melgaard, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York


  • The Glamour Chase, Galleri Faurschou, Copenhagen


  • Helter Helter, Galerie Anne De Villepoix, Paris
  • Les Super, Galerie Guido W. Baudach, Berlin
  • A Weekend of Painting; A novel by Les Super, Galerie Leo Koenig, New York



  • Tirol Transfer, Oesterreichisches Kulturforum, Warsaw


  • Skam, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen
  • The End of The Professional Teenager, Sketch, London


  • Black Low, MARTa Herford Museum, Hannover
  • Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna


  • New Heimat, Kunstverein Frankfurt


  • Sharing Exoticisms, 5th Biennale de Lyon

Melgaard appears in Until the Light Takes Us, a documentary about the Norwegian black metal scene in the 1990s. The film featured in the 15th Athens International Film Festival (16–27 September 2009), screened at Danaos Cinema. In the film, an exhibition of Melgaard's in a Stockholm gallery is extensively shown, along with his comments on black/death metal.


  1. ^ a b Kjetil Røed (20 December 2013). "Hvor god er Bjarne Melgaard?". Osloby (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aftenposten. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Susannah Butter (23 January 2014). "The chair man: meet Bjarne Melgaard, the artist behind the Dasha Zhukova seat". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  3. ^
  4. ^ press release for A Weekend of Painting: A Novel by Les Super, Archived December 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Galleri Faurschou Archived July 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Heather Saul (21 January 2014). "Editor apologises after Dasha Zhukova 'black woman mannequin' chair sparks racism row". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  7. ^ Mallika Rao (24 January 2014). "Artist Offers Bizarre Defense For His 'Racist' Chair Sculpture". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Naturally Naked at Gary Tatintsian Gallery".
  9. ^ Ken Johnson (10 October 2013). "Bjarne Melgaard: Ignorant Transparencies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  10. ^ Diane Solway (13 September 2013). "Bjarne Melgaard: Ignorant Transparencies". W Magazine. Retrieved 2 February 2014.

External links[edit]