Join us on a journey into the mystical world of Arild Rosenkrantz – and explore his compelling colours and mythologies.

3 September 2020 to 30 May 2021


Arild Rosenkrantz, Storm, 1959. Photo: Rudi Hass

A questing soul, an eccentric sage, an unconventional baron and a dedicated colourist. Baron Arild Rosenkrantz (1870-1964) was all these things and much more. He was colourful, enigmatic and full of stories – just like his fascinating artworks. Baron Rosenkrantz – The wonder of Colour is the first major museum exhibition with works by Arild Rosenkrantz. Encompassing oil paintings, pastels, illustrations and 1:1 designs for brilliant stained-glass windows, the exhibition tells the story of this hitherto largely unknown artist, and his pursuit of light, colour and mysticism.

Arild Rosenkrantz, The Shrine, 1890'erne. Photo: Rudi Hass

A young globetrotter

Arild Rosenkrantz was born into the Rosenkrantz family, growing up as part of the Danish aristocracy. But he never became your typical baron. At the age of ten, Rosenkrantz decided that he wanted to be an artist. And so it was: his career as an artist would later take him from Copenhagen to Rome, Paris, New York and London. In the 1880s, he exhibited his work in Paris at the legendary exhibition series Salon de la Rose+Croix, curated by the occult author Joséphin Péladan. In England he became part of the acclaimed Arts and Crafts movement with his spectacularly coloured stained-glass designs. Throughout his life, Rosenkrantz was preoccupied with depicting the mysterious and spiritual aspects of life, and this became his lifelong quest. The pursuit of the mystical radiates out of his art, appearing behind the shadows, in nature, in man or in the form of a revelatory light.


“If you do not want to be an empty, clamouring barrel full of hollow sounds, you need to bring the realm of the mystical into your life.“

Arild Rosenkrantz

The mysteries of colour

At the exhibition you can explore Rosenkrantz’s exciting experiments with colour, created after he met the Austrian thinker Rudolf Steiner in 1913. Through Steiner, Rosenkrantz was introduced to the colour theory of the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, prompting him to stake everything on mastering the properties of individual colours. He explored how colours affect each other and how they affect us emotionally. Demonstrating a real flair for contrasts, Rosenkrantz gleefully engaged in wild compositions intended to have a direct impact on the human consciousness, connecting us with a higher, divine power.

Strange beings

Rosenkrantz’s world is home to a wealth of characters. They come rushing out of his colourful mists, all expressive body language and flashing eyes. Rosenkrantz was inspired by ‘all that stimulates the imagination’. In his motives we encounter luminous angels, majestic sphinxes and ferocious dragons. The many fantastic beasts belong to stories about existence and about spiritual insight. About who we are and how we grow as spiritual beings. At the same time these images are redolent with imagination and fantastic realms, reminiscent of present-day fantasy universes, computer games and the symbolic world of tarot cards. They offer parallel worlds we can see ourselves reflected in, urging us to consider our own position in the world.


Arild Rosenkrantz, Menneskeriget, 1950-60. Photo: Rudi Hass

“The art of painting can express our inner, spiritual experiences of anxiey, grief and anger…”

Arild Rosenkrantz

Arild Rosenkrantz, The Tell-Tale Heart, 1907-08 and The Pit and the Pendulum, 1907-08. Photo: Rudi Hass

Arild Rosenkrantz today

With the global climate crisis and the pandemic looming large over us, we live in vulnerable times. When science and reason cannot answer our questions, we often seek answers in the reams of the spiritual. Mindfulness, yoga and meditation flourish in our present-day society. On the art scene, topics such as faith, spirit and occultism form the starting point for a wave of new artistic explorations today. For this very reason, interest in Rosenkrantz and his art is growing stronger. Rosenkrantz’s spiritual universe resonates with contemporary audiences.

The exhibition presents over 100 works, most of which are borrowed from the collection at Rosenholm Castle in Djursland, where Arild Rosenkrantz lived the last 20 years of his life.

Explore a universe of sound and colour

The podcast magazine Third Ear presents an evocative sound universe in the exhibition where Rosenkrantz’s hair-raising illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s horror stories Tales of Mystery and Imagination are brought to life. In continuation of the exhibition, you can also immerse yourself in an interactive colour and sound installation created by the design and art collective YOKE in collaboration with Third Ear. Surrounded by undulating colour patterns, you can add new colours and sounds to the installation through your body’s movements.