9.6.23 - 22.10.23

The first retrospective in Scandinavia of contemporary art superstar Ragnar Kjartansson. The exhibition, entitled 'Epic Waste of Love and Understanding', has been named one of the must-see exhibitions of the year by The Art Newspaper and features works in a variety of media, painting, performance, large-scale spatial works etc.

The exhibition is supported by the C.L David Foundation and Collection.. With additional support from Myndlistarsjóður / Icelandic Visual Arts Fund

Widely recognized as one of the most exciting and significant voices of contemporary art, Icelandic Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976) takes a both loving and critical look at Western culture. Love, identity, melancholy, masculinity, power and powerlessness are among the artist’s central themes.

Ragnar Kjartansson often uses repetition as a method – repeating a motif, a scene or a single strophe over a prolonged period of time. The balance between existential or political seriousness and superficial cliché invests the works with a precise, quivering ambiguity.

A master of all

Ragnar Kjartansson often makes us both laugh and cry. This field of tension between tragedy and comedy has become the artist’s signature – as, for example, in the work Me and My Mother (2015) which is part of the Louisiana Collection.

Mastering a multitude of genres, media and roles, Kjartansson acts as a director and a musician, a comedian and a showman, a critic and a visual artist. In his works, he uses a multitude of references – historical, art historical, literary, political and pop cultural – that all stem from a curious engagement in our dealings with the world here and now.

An array of video art, paintings, sculptures and drawings are on display, including several of the artist’s most beloved works. Among them 'A lot of Sorrow', his 2013 collaboration with American indie rock band The National as well as the immersive nine-channel video installation 'The Visitors' (2012), featuring Kjartansson and a group of his musician friends performing at a crumbling mansion formerly owned by the Astor family in upstate New York.

Lesser-known pieces include ‘Mercy’ (2004), a single-channel film of the artist, Elvis-like with slicked-back hair and a creamy white suit, strumming a guitar and repeating the refrain “Oh why do I keep on hurting you?”.

Experience Scared Man

In the new performance created for the exhibition Scared Man (in Danish Bangemand), we find a tuxedo-clad man with his back to the wall, perched on a cornice. The Hollywood cliché is a familiar one. Here it is isolated as a contemporary tableau with rich interpretative possibilities.

You can experience the performance Monday to Friday from 11-21 and Saturday and Sunday at 11-17.

In the media

The Art Newspaper

A must-see of 2023 covering a variety of genres and including several of the artist’s most beloved works. The Kjartansson show continues the artist's interest in “the powerful mix of media, performance, humour and politics”


Wallow in Ragnar Kjartansson’s epic riffs on Nordic melancholia at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. His work possesses an essential human quality that often captures the zeitgeist,

Das Erste / ARD

There cannot be a more magical place than the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, when it comes to exploring the work of Ragnar Kjartansson and his loving, yet critical take on Western culture.

Dagens Nyheter

I laugh so hard, I am about to roll over at Kjartansson's wild takes on modern masculinity. 'Bangemand', the scared man on the ledge, is really a superhero for our time - both self-portrait and poignant satire.


A show full of joy and life... with a deep sense of humanity permeating the works. I am thrilled in the same way as on days when I feel most alive and when the world seems to make sense and living worthwile. As soon as I leave this show, I want to go back...

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Joy does not seem to have a place in contemporary art, except in Ragnar Kjartansson's work. The great Icelandic artist is infatuated by repetition and uses is to charm visitors at the Louisiana.

Il Giornale dell'Arte

An homage to one of the most significant voices in the artistic field of our times. A loving critical look on Western culture of today, exploring themes such as love, identity, masculinity and power.

Apollo Art Magazine

Ragnar Kjartansson has been called the world's finest performance artist.

Svenska Dagbladet

The works are installed as pearls on a string so that we are in exactly the right mood when entering The Visitors, a gripping installation, deservedly hailed as a masterpiece of our time.

Ragnar Kjartansson has exhibited widely at leading art institutions around the world. The exhibition is the first major retrospective in Scandinavia and follows extensive presentations at Louisiana of other key figures in contemporary art who work in multiple media, such as Marina Abramović, Pipilotti Rist, Mika Rottenberg and Arthur Jafa.


In connection with the exhibition the museum has produced two t-shirts in collaboration with the artist; one with the title of the exhibition and the other with the title of the performance piece, 'Bangeman'. The two t-shirts are available in small, medium and large, and are made from organic fair trade cotton. Available both in the museum shop and online.