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New Exhibit At Bruce Museum In Greenwich Shows Animals In Whimsical Light

Bjørn Okholm Skaarup's "The Majestic Lion" is part of the new Carnival of the Animals exhibit at Bruce Museum in Greenwich.
Bjørn Okholm Skaarup's "The Majestic Lion" is part of the new Carnival of the Animals exhibit at Bruce Museum in Greenwich. Photo Credit: Contributed by Bruce Museum

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Visitors to Bruce Museum in Greenwich will see animals as they’ve never seen them before in a recently opened exhibition by Bjorn Okholm Skaarup.

Carnival of the Animals, which runs through Jan. 3, 2016, features 20 bronze animal sculptures. Each of the sculptures tells a story to decipher inspired by art history, ancient fables or modern animation.

The title for the exhibit derives from the the suite “Le carnaval des animaux” by French composer Camille Saint Saëns. He famously translates animal attributes into music.

Among the more unusual sculptures are His Majestic Lion, traditional king of the animals, wearing the crown and armor of a great monarch in the style of Medici court sculptor Giambologna. The lion sits astride a rocking horse, a reference to his fleeting and jovial power.

In other displays, a cheetah rides a scooter to move faster, a giraffe stands on stilts to reach higher, and a kangaroo bounces on a pogo stick.

Okholm Skaarup’s diverse sources are at once light-hearted and highly researched. A Dancing Bear is patinated in vibrant Fabergé-like colors, dressed as the Ballets Russes star Vaslav Nijinsky, while a Dino Paleontologist discovers an unknown fossil in the sediment: the Flintstone’s Flintmobile.

These indoor and outdoor sculptures display the vanishing art of large-scale bronze casting. They are particularly inviting for young art enthusiasts, and rewarding to longtime students of art history.

“Bjorn Okholm Skaarup’s whimsical creations amuse and delight,’’ says Peter C. Sutton, The Susan E. Lynch Executive Director of the Bruce Museum. “Our Night at the Museum family event on Nov. 6 is well-timed since this is a show that is sure to captivate children of all ages.”

Okholm Skaarup, a native of Denmark, was an artist at the Danish National Museum, Copenhagen from 1994-2004, before moving to Florence and receiving a PhD from the European University Institute in 2009. While in Florence, he studied the work of Renaissance sculptors Donatello, Cellini, and Giambologna.

He also wrote and illustrated books on history, archaeology, and anatomy. In 2012, Okholm Skaarup was commissioned by the Koldinghus Museum, Kolding, a former Danish royal residence, to create four large reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Christian IV of Denmark.

In 2015, the Collectivité of St. Barth acquired a suite of 10 animal sculptures for public display throughout the island. Okholm Skaarup’s sculptures have been exhibited at the Koldinghus Museum, Kolding; Museo del Cenacolo di Ognissanti, Florence; the Four Seasons Hotel, Florence; and Hotel Cipriani, Venice.

For more information about the exhibit and other events at Bruce Museum, click here to visit its website.

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