It’s Day 195…been a busy week! I need to learn a few ukulele songs, finish this blog, design a few versions of a show flyer, eat dinner and then hang with some friends and it’s already 6pm! Join me in honoring Asger Jorn today!
Asger Oluf Jorn (3 March 1914 – 1 May 1973) was a Danish painter, sculptor, ceramic artist, and author. He was a founding member of the avant-garde movement COBRA and the Situationist International. He was born in Vejrum, in the northwest corner of Jutland, Denmark, and baptized Asger Oluf Jørgensen.
The largest collection of Asger Jorn’s works—including his major work Stalingrad—can be seen
in the Museum Jorn, Silkeborg,Denmark.
He was the second oldest of six children, an elder brother to Jørgen Nash. Both his parents were teachers. His father, Lars Peter Jørgensen, was a fundamentalist Christian who died in a car crash when Asger was 12 years old. His mother, Maren, née Nielsen, was more liberal but nevertheless a deeply committed Christian. This early heavy Christian influence had a negative effect on Asger who began progressively to inwardly rebel against it, and more generally against other forms of authority.
In 1929, aged 15, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis although he made a recovery from it after spending three months on the west coast of Jutland. By the age of 16 he was influenced by N. F. S. Grundtvig, and although he had already started to paint, Asger enrolled in the Vinthers Seminarium, a teacher training college in Silkeborg where he paid particular attention to a course in 19th century Scandinavian thought. Also at about this time Jorn became the subject of a number of oil paintings by the painter Martin Kaalund-Jørgensen, which encouraged Jorn to try his hand in this medium.
When he graduated from college in 1935, the principal wrote a reference for him which said that he had attained ‘an extraordinary rich personal development and maturity’ – especially because of his wide reading in areas outside the topics required for his studies. While at college he joined the small Silkeborg branch of the Communist Party of Denmark and came under the direct influence of the syndicalist Christian Christensen, with whom he became close friends and who, Jorn was later to write, was to become a second father to him.
In 1936 he traveled (on a BSA motorbike he had scraped together enough money to buy) to Paris to become a student of Kandinsky. However when he discovered that Kandinsky was having economic difficulties, barely able to sell his own paintings, Jorn decided to join Fernand Léger’s Académie Contemporaine; it was during this period that he turned away from figurative painting and to abstract art. In 1937 he joined Le Corbusier in working on the Pavillon des Temps Nouveaux at the 1937 Paris Exhibition. He returned again to Denmark in the summer of 1937. He again traveled to Paris in the summer of 1938, before returning to Denmark, traveling to Løkken, Silkeborg andCopenhagen. Asger Jorn was a good friend of the Danish art dealer Børge Birch, owner of Galerie Birch, who sold his art as early as the 1930s. Later on Jorn held many group exhibitions and solo exhibitions in different galleries.
From 1937 to 1942, he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.
The occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany was a time of deep crisis for Jorn, who had been deeply inculcated with pacifism, initially
sinking him into deep depression. He subsequently became an active communist resistant. During the war he also co-founded with the architect Robert Dahlmann Olsen the underground art group, Helhesten or “hell-horse,” and was a contributor to its journal. In 1941, he wrote the key theoretical essay, “Intimate Banalities,” published in Helhesten, which claimed that the future of art was kitsch and praised amateur landscape paintings as “the best art today.” He was also the first person to translate Franz Kafka into Danish.
His first American solo exhibition was at the Lefebre Gallery in 1962. After 1966, Jorn continued to produce oil paintings while traveling throughout Europe collecting images with photographer Gerard Francesci for his vast archive of “10,000 Years of Nordic Folk Art”. He traveled extensively, to Cuba, England, and the far east. Jorn traveled to the United States for the only time in 1970, for a gallery opening at Lefebre Gallery. He had earlier asserted that he refused to travel to a country that made visitors sign a statement maintaining that they were not communists.
In 1964, he was awarded a Guggenheim Award including a generous cash prize, by an international jury assembled by Lawrence Alloway. The following day Jorn sent this telegram to the president of the Guggenheim, Harry F. Guggenheim:
GO TO HELL BASTARD—STOP—REFUSE PRIZE—STOP—NEVER ASKED FOR IT—STOP—AGAINST ALL DECENCY MIX ARTIST AGAINST HIS WILL IN YOUR PUBLICITY—STOP—I WANT PUBLIC CONFIRMATION NOT TO HAVE PARTICIPATED IN YOUR RIDICULOUS GAME.
During the course of his artistic career he produced over 2500 paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculptures, artist’s books, collages, décollages, and collaborative tapestries.
He died in Aarhus, Denmark on 1 May 1973. He is buried in the cemetery at Grötlingbo
Church, on the island of Gotland in Sweden.
Partial biography from wikipedia.
To break and be able to grow together again in a better way: that is the difficult art.
Statement of 1963, as quoted in Asger Jorn (2002) by Arken Museum of Modern Art
To get anywhere, one must choose one’s mistakes, I chose experimental acts. (1963)
Statement of 1963, as quoted in Asger Jorn (2002) by Arken Museum of Modern Art, p. 129
I enjoyed doing this piece today. Definitely had a sense of freedom and the amount of color usage was exciting. <- Did that even make sense? I definitely did some experimenting. I focused on this particular era of his art, but if you look him up you’ll see how many styles, forms and mediums he used. It is endless. Definitely a prolific and highly intellectual artist. I think my exhaustion is creeping in now. I will see you tomorrow on Day 196. Best, Linda