Born in Sydney in 1967 to Norwegian parents, Bjarne Melgaard was raised in Oslo, Norway, and currently lives and works in New York. Melgaard studied at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts before moving to The Netherlands in 1991 to complete his studies, first at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam until 1992, then subsequently at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht from 1992 until 1993.
Since the beginning of his artistic career, Melgaard’s installations have focused on subversive themes, often taking inspiration from various provocative subcultures such as S&M and Heavy Metal music. Melgaard’s current practice, known for crossing disciplinary boundaries, is comprised largely of expressionistic drawings and paintings that frequently incorporate text and a wide array of multimedia components.
In 2000, Melgaard established himself as the “bad boy” of contemporary art with his first solo show in New York, in which he featured sculptures of apes engaged in explicit sexual acts. Since then, his works have become part of the permanent collections of major museums such as the MoMA in New York, the MOCA in Los Angeles, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Strasbourg and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, amongst others.
Bjarne Melgaard has participated in the Venice (2011), Lyon (2013) and Whitney (2014) Biennials. In 2013/2014 the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo opened an exhibition, curated by Gunnar B. Kvaran and Therese Möllenhoff, presenting works from the past 20 years and representing all periods of Melgaard's œuvre. In 2010, the same museum exhibited Jealous, Bjarne Melgaard’s first retrospective exhibition.
“Bjarne Melgaard is really a ‘bad dad.’ Though as much as this is truly his character and not some contrived act, he knows, too, that ‘bad dad’ is also a canonic artist subjectivity— an art world meme that remains in circulation because it allows in social violence and public transgression, elements that those who reside in the protected, connectionist culture sphere seem to love or at least love to hate.” — Caroline Busta, “In The Name of The Father.”
Artist Bjarne Melgaard ran into problems with the Norwegian customs officials, who held 16 of his art works at Oslo airport for three months, determining they were not art and were therefore subject to a VAT charge of 1.3 million Krone ($153,024.)
Det klirrer, klinker og skraper i bordplaten på Vingen bar på Tjuvholmen i Oslo. Fra en svart veske har smykkekunstner Bjørg Nordli-Mathisen trukket opp smykkekolleksjonen hun har laget sammen med Bjarne Melgaard. Hun pakker hver del – eller piece som hun selv kaller det – forsiktig ut av små, knitrende plastposer. Medaljonger, tykke kjeder, steinsatte falloser og dyrefigurer blir liggende spredt mellom askebegre, espressoer og mobiltelefoner – som om det var innholdet fra en roteskuff.
The Norwegian finance minister Siv Jensen has stepped in to resolve a row between the artist Bjarne Melgaard and customs officials who had detained 16 of his paintings because they were not considered works of art, so were subject to VAT. The total amount being sought was NKr 1.3m (£123,000).
After a three-month battle between Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard and customs officials, who confiscated sixteen of his paintings after determining that they were “not art,” finance minister Siv Jensen intervened, José da Silva of the Art Newspaper reports.