Banja Rathnov Galleri & Clausens Kunsthandel: Highlighting Danish Art
By Karen Gilmour Kristensen
In the heart of Copenhagen lies Banja Rathnov Galleri & Clausens Kunsthandel, a combined gallery and art shop run by Banja Rathnov and Lis Clausen. Here, they exhibit and sell contemporary art including graphics, lithographic artwork and photography. The pair joined forces five years ago, united by a common goal: to promote Danish art.
Lis Clausen inherited Clausens Kunsthandel from her father, art dealer Viggo Clausen, who opened the art shop in 1953. When Lis Clausen had to move location, she started working with Banja Rathnov, who had a gallery of her own.
Rathnov and Clausen are deeply rooted in the Danish artistic tradition, meaning that they mainly deal with Danish art or artists living in Denmark and their estates. When working with estates, Rathnov and Clausen make sure to work with the family of the late artist to preserve the artwork. “I believe that the artist’s country of origin is best suited to promote the art,” Rathnov says. “After all, if we don’t showcase Danish art, then who will?”
Working with Danish art also benefits the artist – or the family of the artist – who has a physical location to visit. However, it’s not just about the location, it’s about connections too. Connections are key at Banja Rathnov Galleri & Clausens Kunsthandel, which is why they collaborate with the artist when deciding on a potential buyer. “Ideally, I’d like to know who I sell an artwork to, so I can know where it’s going to hang,” Rathnov explains. “But it also benefits the artist. In this way, we try to make sure the art won’t be stored in a warehouse.”
Artwork from Banja Rathnov Galleri & Clausens Kunsthandel can be purchased in the art shop, as well as online on the gallery’s website, Facebook and Instagram. For Rathnov, it’s vital that art receives the appreciation it deserves, which is why she and Clausen are passionate about working closely with the artist. Before opening her first gallery, Rathnov worked in art auctions in Paris for many years, where she became aware of the conditions under which artists work.
“Part of the reason why I decided to open my own gallery was to give artists a better deal,” she says. “Whenever an artwork is sold at auction, the artist doesn’t make a profit – whoever owns the art does. I found it more considerate to collaborate with the artist.”
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