Marselisborg Gymnasium, which dates back to 1898, has been expanded in stages over the years. The teaching wings all reflect the time of their construction, with regard to both architecture and artistic decoration. Similarly, Marselisborg Gymnasium wanted the new wing – inaugurated in 2014 – to reflect its time.

In close cooperation with the school, the New Carlsberg Foundation therefore asked four contemporary artists to decorate the new wing: Jesper Christiansen, Kathrine Ærtebjerg, Julie Nord and Martin Bigum.

Different expressions
It was important to Marselisborg Gymnasium and the New Carlsberg Foundation to select artists with different expressions and to display works that would appeal to young people and offer a significant artistic experience without requiring prior knowledge.

The selected artists were asked to decorate the four open and architecturally identical rooms in the new wing. The key idea was to hand all four artists the ‘same’ assignment as a way of offering students and visitors an opportunity to experience the many expressions and approaches of art.

Ayat Al-ansari, a first-year (tenth-grade) student at Marselisborg Gymnasium, comments on the decorative projects:

‘It’s important to have art in a school. Art creates a certain atmosphere, and it really does away with the stereotypical perception that school is only about homework, stress, rules and teaching. It’s also a place with room for art, free thinking and creativity.’

Julie Nord, Youth, 2016. Photo: Jens Peter Engedal

Incorporating art in learning
Marselisborg Gymnasium has always had a tradition for incorporating the artworks at the school in classroom activities. According to Doris Hostrup, who teaches art and languages at Marselisborg Gymnasium, art is crucial for everyday life at the school:

‘You simply cannot overestimate the importance for students of being surrounded by interesting art. It sparks thoughts and ideas, provides inspiration and is a source of joy and wonder. I’m sure that this point of view is shared by many teachers.’

The New Carlsberg Foundation has developed a specific teaching material that takes its point of departure in the four artists’ decorative projects, offering an accessible and inspiring way to include the works in courses on art and design, Danish and foreign languages.

The teaching material is available free of charge (in Danish) at www.kunstensveje.dk and is designed to be used by students all over Denmark, even if they do not have physical access to the artworks.

In a special initiative aimed at students at and visitors to Marselisborg Gymnasium, the New Carlsberg Foundation has also developed an interactive tool in the form of a mobile app that offers users new ways to experience and engage with the artworks.