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Composition for the Left Hand

With Works from Kode and the Kagge Collection. Curated by Marta Kuzma.


Where Rasmus Meyer

Price 175/0 NOK

Opens on February 16: Contemporary art from the collection of polar explorer and adventurer Erling Kagge interweaves with rarely displayed works from Kode’s historical collection

In a revisionary approach to presenting the museum collection, nearly 400 works from artists from either side of the past 100 years entangle and intertwine to produce conversations between the works – Anne Imhof with Francisco Goya, Peder Balke with Trisha Donnelly, Synnøve Anker Aurdal with Tauba Auerbach, Frida Hansen with Marc C. Chaimowicz, and Honoré Daumier with Raymond Pettibon, among others.

Composition for the Left Hand is curated by Marta Kuzma, curator, theorist and Professor at Yale School of Art. The exhibition is part of a series of projects at Kode in 2023–24 under the theme 'The Collectors', where the museum shines a light on historically significant collectors, as well as contemporary figures who have been dedicated to making their collections publicly accessible.

By generating these visual dialogues, the exhibition addresses how “nature” has traversed from the 19th-century ideal of landscape to a wider category of ecology as a reflection on the state of human society.

About the exhibition

Composition for the Left Hand, by virtue of its title, is an exhibition that explores a symbolic “left-handedness” in relationship to its right counterpart, a complementary opposition that zig-zags through the correlate of the brain’s two hemispheres: the left commands logic and language, and the right, creativity and intuition.

Both are foundational for human thought and behavior. Handedness, though, does not have a simple pattern of inheritance, despite the recognition of one hand’s dominance over the other with respect to strength, dexterity and agility. Despite the lineage of artists who professed affiliation in the name of the left, in the likes of Michelangelo, Dürer, Raphael, Rembrandt, da Vinci and Klee, it is likely one’s adherence or preponderance, for one hand or the other, is influenced by a wider set of rules, accepted modes of existence and social conditioning.

The exhibition unfolds as a dialogue, an entanglement, a banter of binaries between two collections: one historical in content and built by Rasmus Meyer, a Norwegian industrialist and landscape architect who committed suicide in 1916, today forming part of Kode’s permanent collections – the other, contemporary and growing, led by Erling Kagge, a Polar explorer and writer delving into subjects of silence, walking and observation under extreme circumstances.

Skisse av to personer til hest

Lars Hertervig: To ryttere (Watercolor. Undated). From the Kode collection.

Et foto av en cowboy i ørkenen som hopper med lasso

Richard Prince: Untitled (cowboy) (Ektacolor photograph. 2003) From The Erling Kagge Collection.

En tegning i sort-hvitt som viser en gruppe mennesker som står med bøyde hoder på rekke. Armene henger ned langs siden, med overdimensjonerte hender.

Anne Imhof: No god we trust, 2023, pencil on paper. Erling Kagge Collection.

Et grafikkverk av kvinne med vinger som svever over et skjellett.

Edvard Munch: Harpy (litography, 1899) From The Rasmus Meyer Collection at Kode.

Et kunstfoto av et hav med en bølge

Trisha Donnelly: Untitled (2007). From The Erling Kagge Collection.

Et maleri av en opprørt sjø med klipper i blåtoner.

Peder Balke: Hav i storm / Stormy Sea (oil on wood, undated). From The Rolf Stenersen Collection at Kode.

Satirisk tustegning av Kittelsen som viser en mann som ligger i en umulig stilling.

Theodor Kittelsen: Et slangemenneske / The Contortionist (1900-07). From The Rasmus Meyer Collection.

Et abstrakt maleri som viser en fotaktig figur.

Jana Euler: Under this perspective, I (2015). From The Erling Kagge Collection.

Each collection is situated on either side of a century, on either side of historical perspectives. Through their recollections we reencounter wars, intellectual disputes, psychoanalytic advancements, contradictory political economies and modes of production, social revolutions, the dissolution of empires, nation state formations, despairs in feminism advocacy, and the breaking force and denouement of Western labor movements.

In the longstanding compression of social and economic modernization of these two centuries, nature stands as historical in that it has been profoundly and often negatively affected by human history.

The exhibition title borrows from Concert Piece in the form of Variations for the Pianoforte Left Hand, written and performed by the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, the philosopher's brother, in 1915. Wittgenstein’s right arm was amputated after having been shot by the Russians on the Ukrainian front in WWI. Once freed, Wittgenstein held a concert in Vienna by combining pedaling and hand movement techniques previously regarded as impossible for a five-fingered pianist.

Beyond this singlehanded address of “two handedness”, speaking to how a work of art may be expressed outside its material finitude and sensuousness, the exhibition Composition for the Left Hand proceeds according to clusters and constellations, to comprise a manuscript annotated by nearly 400 works that frame over 100 years of correspondent artists’ practices to re-address classic categories, and to expand dimensions beyond human perceptibility.


From the Kagge Collection: Mark Handforth, Wolfgang Tillmans, Laura Owens, Hanneline Røgeberg, Josh Smith, Brigit Megerie, John McCracken, Sergej Jensen, Ann Cathrin November Høibo, Klara Lidén, Ceal Floyer, Lutz Bacher, Tauba Auerbach, Trisha Donnelly, Kirsten Pieroth, Isa Genzken, Oscar Tuazon, André Kertész, Francis Bacon, Gunnar S. Gundersen, Karen Kilimnik, Roe Ethridge, Franz West, Seth Price, Lari Pittman, Richard Prince, Raymond Pettibon, Ian Cheng, Haris Epaminonda, Mathias Faldbakken, Jana Euler, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, James White, Valentin Carron, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Jakob Weideman, Nina Beier, Anne Imhof, Daido Moriyama, Beatrice Caracciolo, Nader Ahriman, Fischli & Weiss, Michaela Meise, Torbjørn Rødland, Diane Arbus, Nobuyoshi Araki, Lauwrence Weiner, Vito Acconci, Marijke van Warmerdam, Martine Syms, Tehching Hsieh, Prunella Clough, Urara Tsuchiya, Heji Shin, Sadie Benning, Antonio Tarsis, Matthew Langan-Peck, Tuda Muda, Isabella Ducrot, Tosh Basco, Louis Fratino, Issy Wood, Diamond Stingily and Farah Al Qasimi.

Artists from the Kode and Rasmus Meyer Collections include: Synnøve Anker Aurdal, Peder Balke, Eva Børresen, Harriet Backer, Karin Bjorkquist, Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Christian Krogh, J. C. Dahl, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco Goya, Karen Hannover, Frida Hansen, Kitty Kielland, Käthe Kollwitz, Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Lars Hertervig, Asger Jorn, Gerhard Munthe, Theodor Kittelsen, Per Kleiva, Edvard Munch, Egil Røed, John Savio and Ingebrigt Vik, among others.

Maleri av samleren Rasmus Meyer som står kledd i dress med en visnet blomst i hånden

Hjørdis Landmark: Portrett av Rasmus Meyer / Portrait of Rasmus Meyer (1933)

Foto av polfarer på vei over en bresprekk på ski.

Fra Erling Kagges ekspedisjon til Nordpolen (1990). Privat foto.

Foto av mann i ullgenser som ser mot kamera

Erling Kagge. Foto: Simon Skreddernes.

About Erling Kagge

Erling Kagge is known as one of the greatest adventurers of our time, but is also a dedicated art collector, publisher and author. Starting out in the early 1980s, he is now a leading collector of international contemporary art. The collection is remarkably well-composed, each work having been chosen with unusual insight and personal judgement. The recent years The Erling Kagge Collection has been exhibited at major museum shows, dedicated to the collection, in France, Spain, Italy, and Norway.

As an explorer and mountaineer, Kagge is the first person to have completed the ‘three poles’ – The North Pole, The South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest. He has sailed across the Atlantic twice, around Cape Horn and to Antarctica and back, and crossed New York City through its sewage, water, train and subway tunnels, among other things. Kagge has written eight books on exploration, philosophy, and art collecting, published in 41 languages. The New York Times has described Kagge as“ a fascinating man. He's a philosophical adventurer or perhaps an adventurous philosopher.”

Rasmus Meyer Collection at Kode

Rasmus Meyer (1858-1916) was an industrialist who ran the largest milling operation in Norway in the early 1900s. An important collector and philanthropist, Meyer was an early supporter of Edvard Munch’s work, acquiring some of his most significant work. Other significant artists in Meyer collection include Nikolai Astrup, Harrier Backer, Johannes Christian Dahl, Hans Gude, Kitty Kielland, Christian Krogh, Gerhard Munthe, and Frits Thaulow.

About the curator

Marta Kuzma is an American curator, theorist, and Professor of Art at the Yale School of Art, where she was the first woman to be appointed Dean (2015-2021) in the institution’s 150 year history.

Kuzma was Rector of the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm (2014) and before this Director of the OCA – Office for Contemporary Art in Oslo (2005-2013) leading the research based institutional OCA Semesterplan which included Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?

In 2004, Kuzma co-curated Manifesta 5 in San Sebastian, from 1990-2000 she was founding Director for the Soros Center for Contemporary Art in Kyiv, Ukraine. Earlier in her career, she directed the international exhibitions programme at the International Center of Photography in New York, under Cornell Capa. Kuzma has authored numerous articles and books, the most recent, History of An Art School (2022). Kuzma completed her undergraduate studies at Barnard College, Columbia University, and her postgraduate studies in aesthetics and art theory from the Center in Research in Modern European Philosophy in London.

Practical information

The exhibition will be at display at both Rasmus Meyer and Permanenten.

Go to this site to plan your visit

The exhibition is at display in two buildings: Rasmus Meyer (over) and Permanenten.