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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


Melgaard was born in Sydney, Australia to Norwegian parents, and was raised in Oslo, Norway. In 2009, he moved permanently to New York.[2][3] 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.

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]

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

In January 2014, Melgaard's artwork Chair caused controversy. Chair is a sculpture of a bound black woman on her back with a seat cushion on her thighs, and is a reinterpretation of a similar piece by British pop artist Allen Jones.[6] The controversy began when Russian art socialite Dasha Zhukova was photographed sitting on the cushion for a fashion website, resulting in online accusations of racism under the Twitter hashtag #racistchair.[7][8] Guardian critic Jonathan Jones suggested that this controversy was a misunderstanding of Melgaard's intentions, and Zhukova said that the photograph of her was "out of context"; the artwork intended to be a "commentary on gender and racial politics".[9] Melgaard himself released a statement responding to the controversy that was labelled by some writers as "bizarre".[8][10]

Melgaard has collaborated with Norwegian artist Sverre Koren Bjertnaes in several exhibitions.[11] The two alternate to work on the same canvas, giving them an expression neither of the artists would achieve alone.[12]

Notable exhibitions







  • 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 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. ^ "Bjarne Melgaard - kunst til salgs, bilder, biografi og CV". Fineart AS (in Norwegian).
  4. ^ press release for A Weekend of Painting: A Novel by Les Super, LeoKoenig.com Archived December 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Bjarne Melgaard". Galleri Faurschou. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Why there's nothing racist about the 'racist chair'". the Guardian. 2014-01-21. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  7. ^ "The "Racist Chair" Wasn't Racist Until a Russian Socialite Sat on It". Complex. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  8. ^ a b Rao, Mallika (24 January 2014). "Artist Offers Bizarre Defense For His 'Racist' Chair Sculpture". The Huffington Post.
  9. ^ Heather Saul (21 January 2014). "Editor apologises after Dasha Zhukova 'black woman mannequin' chair sparks racism row". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  10. ^ Steinhauer, Jillian (2014-01-21). "The Art World's Casual Racism [UPDATED]". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  11. ^ "Kunstnerne Melgaard og Bjertnes brøt kontakten. Slik gikk det da de tok opp tråden igjen". 4 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Melgaard og Bjertnæs leverer en utstilling på steroider". 15 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Naturally Naked". Gary Tatintsian Gallery.
  14. ^ Ken Johnson (10 October 2013). "Bjarne Melgaard: Ignorant Transparencies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  15. ^ Diane Solway (13 September 2013). "Bjarne Melgaard: Ignorant Transparencies". W Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.