About the art collection

Since 2005, the Sparebankstiftelsen DNB has bought art that is displayed in Norwegian museums.

The Henie Onstad Art Center opened the new exhibition hall, Sal Merz in 2021, which is dedicated to avant-garde art. Several works from the foundation’s art collection are shown here. (Photo by: Ivar Kvaal)

The art collection is owned by the foundation, but the works are deposited at various Norwegian art museums with long-term agreements. You can view the collection as well as information about at which museum the different art works are displayed, here.

The foundation prioritises artists and works that are to a small extent publicly available in Norway, and we wish to contribute to complementing the museums’ collections. The works of art are acquired in collaboration with the museums. The initiative to purchase can come both from us and from the museums.

Main collection areas

German Expressionism

Since 2009, the foundation has built an extensive collection of paintings and graphic works by some of the foremost representatives of German Expressionism; Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Emil Nolde, Gabriele Münter, Augugst Macke and Erich Heckel.

The art works can be seen in the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. Before the foundation started collecting works by these artists, very few were presented in Norwegian museum collections, thus by including them in the National Museum’s collection presentation, a larger context and framework has been established around the museum’s significant collection of works by Edvard Munch.

Nikolai Astrup 

The foundation purchased an extensive collection of paintings, woodcuts and drawings by Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928) in 2005. The collection is permanently located at the KODE Art Museums in Bergen. By facilitating research, the foundation’s goal is to increase the understanding of Astrup’s art, both in Norway and internationally. This work has manifested itself in PhD projects and a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions in Norway, England, Germany and the USA.

Works by Nikolai Astrup

Kurt Schwitters and the Avant-garde

Since 2009, the foundation has built a representative collection of works by the German artist Kurt Schwitters. The works are deposited at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter and can now be seen in the art center’s newly opened Sal Merz. The Schwitters collection is the largest collection of works by the artist available to the public, outside of Germany. Schwitters has a special connection to Norway. He worked and lived here for large parts of the 1930s. Nevertheless, there were previously only a couple of works by him in Norwegian museums.
From around 2016, we expanded our focus on Kurt Schwitters to include more of his contemporary artist colleagues and friends, such as Jean Arp, Hannah Höch, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, René Magritt and Max Ernst, to contribute a larger context around Schwitter’s art. These are all artists who have not previously been represented in Norwegian museum collections.

Andy Warhol and Munch

The Warhol collection revolves around a selection in which he has paraphrased several of Edvard Munch’s iconic motifs; Scream, Madonna, Self-portrait with Skeleton Arm and Eva Mudocci. The works have an obvious relevance in a Norwegian artistic context; the glamorous superstar paraphrases the only Norwegian artist who belongs to the first division of international art. The collection consists of 12 works and they are all deposited at Haugar Vestfold Art Museum.

Female pioneers

The desire to prioritize the procurement of female pioneers was formulated in 2009. The background for the initiative is that although much basic research has been conducted on female artists since the 1970s, this has not been sufficiently reflected in the museums’ procurement policy and exhibition practice. This collection area is large, and we lend works to a number of different museums. Artists included are Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Hepworth, Irma Salo Jæger, Lena Cronqvist and Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, among others.
The purpose of the initiative is not only to help correct the gender balance in Norwegian museum collections, but also to help expand the stories that can be told about Norwegian and international art history, and to put Norwegian art (made by both women and men) into a broader context.

Munch in context

Since 2018, we have collaborated with the MUNCH Museum to develop their “Munch in context” project where they want to establish a larger and broader context around Munch’s art based on the Stenersen collection. The collection consists of paintings from the early 20th century by Munch’s contemporary artist colleagues; Erich Heckel, Gabriele Münter, Alexej von Jawlensky, Raoul Dufy and Heinrich Campendonk. All works are on loan to MUNCH.

American Street Photography

The development of this collection started in 2016, and it consists of about 150 photographs with special focus on urban motifs from both the East and West coasts of the United States. The collection stretches from the early 1900s onwards, and includes a variety of artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Diane Arbus, Ed Ruscha, Lee Friedlander, Weegee and Dorothea Lange. The collection has been developed in collaboration with Lillehammer Art Museum and Drammens Museum, and is deposited in both museums.

Nordic modernism

Since around 2019, we have wanted to build up a collection of Nordic art from around 1880 to 1920 with a plan to deposit them at Lillehammer Art Museum. The museum itself has a large and significant collection of Norwegian art from this period, but lacks works from our neighboring countries. With this initiative, the foundation can contribute to a greater understanding and broader context for the museum’s own collection.