Sven Dalsgaard

Sven Dalsgaard was a painter, sculptor and poet. In his artistic career he moved through many different artistic directions and expressions. He is especially known for his chairs, sculptures, blue packets, monochrome paintings and paintings of the Danish flag.


sven dalsgaardSven Dalsgaard (1914-1999)

Sven Dalsgaard was part of the Danish art scene for several decades and was always eager to verify the Danish and international trends. He had a fine sense of catching new trends around the world. As a young artist, his works were naturalistic, and he also worked with the abstract painting. However, later on he was strongly influenced by Surrealism. In 1942 he had his first exhibition in Copenhagen, and in 1943 he had his debut at Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling. In 1943 he also had his debut as a poet.

In the years following the war, he, like many other Danish artists, was in Paris several times. In Paris he was greatly inspired by famous people of the Avantgarde, like Francis Picabia, Victor Brauner and Alberto Giacometti. From the early 1950s he became a very active exhibitor in different contexts. In 1960 he began working with the monochrome painting, Object Art and Conceptual Art.


Svend Dalsgaard. Den Blå Skjorte 2. ABlå Skjorte, 1968

Like the Italian artist Piero Manzoni, which Dalsgaard met during a stay in Herning, the idea of creating an art work in itself became essential to him, hence the materials and method became less important. He still made use of the painting, but more as an object rather than an imagery, and it was subjected to all sorts of studies. Words and inscriptions were often seen in his paintings, and also various added objects. It was also in the 1960s that he began to wrap objects and work thematically with chairs, sculptures and paintings of the Danish flagDannebrog.

For several years he participated in a number of artists' associations and group exhibitions such as Spiralen, Maj-udstillingen, Grønningen and Den Frie Udstilling. He gave lectures at The Academy of Art from 1973-1979. In 1978 he was awarded The Thorvaldsen Medal. He has also had a lot of solo exhibitions and is represented in several art museums in Denmark and USA.


At the Angli shirt factory in Herning, manufacturer Aage Damgaard made an effort to integrate art in the working environment. He hired artists to make art, and most of the works that they created during their employment, were accrued to the Angli company. One of the artists who worked there for a longer period was Paul Gadegaard. Through him Sven Dalsgaard made contact with Aage Damgaard. Dalsgaard and Gadegaard exhibited both at Birch Gallery, whose owner Børge Birch served as an art advisor to Aage Damgaard. Damgaard visited Dalsgaard in the town of Randers in 1960; he bought some of his paintings and offered him a job in Herning. Dalsgaard accepted the offer. It became a residency of great importance to Dalsgaard.

It was during a period where experimental art was not an easy way of living, but at the Angli factory he was given artistic freedom, access to materials and payment as well. During his stay he worked, among other things, with sculptures in iron, which he welded. One of them is Magerne fra Herning. This art piece consists of four tall and thin gestalts in iron. It is said that these figures represent the three Damgaard brothers: Aage, Knud and Mads as well as their nephew Johannes Jensen. This type of tall, thin gestalts appears in several of Dalsgaard's paintings as well, for example in I nærheden af stedet from 1964.


Sven Dalsgaard 26I nærheden af stedet, 1964

Dalsgaard's second stay in Herning was in 1968, and here it became obvious that he was tremendously inspired by the Angli factory and the materials that were being used there. He was very eager to explore how a button hole could be opened and closed, and he also worked with fabric and its potential to disguise and conceal an object. Instead of getting help from an experienced seamstress at the factory, Dalsgaard himself, used a sewing machine when he had to sew or to turn button holes. As a young boy he had often helped his mother, who worked as a home seamstress, so it became him well to do these things on his own.

Another work from his second stay in Herning is Blå Skjorte (Blue Shirt) from 1968. A neatly folded shirt hidden under a cloth and painted in Dalsgaard's famous blue colour - "vidunderblå" (wonder blue) as he called it. Other works from his stay is Angli-hjørnet (The Angli Corner) where the corner of a half-wall is covered with cloth, and another work of art Huden af Marats Stol (the skin of Marat's chair). This piece is a chair made out of fabric and with numerous button holes on it. It hangs on the wall like it was ripped right off a chair. During this period in time, Dalsgaard made several chair sculptures that are now in the museum's collection.