Asger Jorn & HEART Highlights




 Asger Jorn, Meereswind

02.03.18 - 16.09.18

The generosity of a private art collector now enables HEART to show no less than 14 works by Asger Jorn, most of which have never before been on display at any Danish museum. Below, the collector – who wishes to remain anonymous – speaks about their thoughts on the artist, their motivation for acquiring these works and their reasons for letting them be exhibited at HEART.

"Mama has collected Danish art all her life. I accompanied Mama to sales and exhibitions throughout my childhood. I love the Danish art that is testimony to the country of my grandmother and my mother - a country in transformation of which I wish to retain early memories; memories of grandmother’s old Copenhagen with the yellow tramways and memories of red-coated Danish postmen and memories of golden fields and farmhouses north of Copenhagen - a country that gave me security and safety in a world of violence and injustice.

I learned from what I saw with Mama and I learned from what I heard and, the more I learned, the more I was enamoured of Asger Jorn. This less than idyllic master struck me from a very early age as being possessed of something truly unique - uniquely tempestuous in emotion and unique also in style.

"How is it that these random splatterings of colour manage to be so very unique and recognisable ?” The question has never ceased to fascinate me as much as has Asger the man and the way he painted and reacted to his unique time in Danish history - a time of which I am a product; and a time of which you are a product.

Please enjoy this truly great Danish master and his expression of a time which I see as the basis of what our country and people are today. A country of which I grow to be more proud with every passing year."

Asger Jorn and the CoBrA movement
Hailing from West Jutland, Jorn came from a region and community where fine art was not a natural part of everyday life. So it was hardly written in the stars that he would grow up to be a highly acclaimed and productive painter, sculptor, public debater and entrepreneur who would leave a significant imprint on the twentieth century. In 1948 he joined the Dutch painter Constant and the Belgian poet Christian Dotremont in founding the international CoBrA movement (1948­– 51). The CoBrA artists were interested in Nordic mythology and in the spontaneous qualities of children’s drawings. Jorn and the CoBrA movement strove to set the imagination free in the creative process, injecting a playful quality and allowing artists to act as ‘unfettered children’, letting colours and forms breathe life into hitherto unseen imaginary creatures. Jorn strove for what he called ‘empty creation’. He sought to enter a state where his mind was as blank as the canvas when he first applied his brush to the white surface.

Jorn and Herning
Asger Jorn was a friend of the Damgaard family in Herning. For many years, the Damgaards were leading shirt manufacturers and art patrons. Jorn was a major asset for the Damgaard family’s advisor on art matters, Børge Birch (1906–93). Børge Birch bought, sold and exhibited works by Jorn, thereby contributing to Jorn’s international breakthrough in the 1960s, which was also aided by Jorn’s participation in the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. Unlike many of his fellow artists, Jorn never engaged in an art residency at the Angli shirt factory. However, he was offered a major commission during one of his numerous visits to the Damgaard family: decorating the walls of the circular inner courtyard of the ‘Round Factory’ in Birk. He rejected the offer because he didn’t have the time. Instead, he suggested fellow artist Carl-Henning Pedersen for the job. Pedersen’s vast ceramic frieze The Play of Imagination around the Wheel of Life was finished in 1968.

HEART’s collection already held 19 works by Asger Jorn, and the arrival of another 14 works offers a perfect chance to do as the CoBrA artists did, to unleash our imagination, allow spontaneity to reign and to rediscover HEART and Herning as the artistic playground that the shirt manufacturer Aage Damgaard (1917–1991) created back in his day!

The works by Asger Jorn are flanked by highlights from HEART's collection with works by Enrico Castellani, Carel Visser, Paul Gadegaard, Asger Jorn, Piero Manzoni, Niels Nedergaard, Knud Hvidberg, Ole Schwalbe a.o.