Asger Jorn

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Asger Jorn was a renowned and notable Danish painter, printmaker and ceramicist, whose works is considered to be among the most influential examples of the Expressionist art. Asger was famous for his use of bold and powerful colours and distorted figures that create an intensely emotional effect on the viewers. Indeed, Jorn was one of the most influential and important painters in Denmark during the 20th century.

Asger Oluf Jorn was born on March 3, 1914, in Verjum, Denmark. From a very early age, Asger began his love affair with art and hence, most of his skills were self-taught. He began indulging in his passion for painting and did not wait to put brush to the canvas until he has had some official training. And in his native Denmark, there was a lot to influence his artistic style and aesthetic sense, for instance, Asger’s interests were piqued by the Scandinavian folk art, medieval frescoes and the culturally rich ornamental art of the Vikings.

In 1936, Asger travelled to Paris and began attending Academie Contemporaine, where he was taught by influential French Cubist painter, Fernand Léger. He collaborated with Leger on the decorations for the ‘Pavillon des Temps Nouveaux’, which was under Le Corbusier at the world exhibition, in 1937. His time at Paris was exceptionally important in Asger’s life as it not only brought him in contact with the works of other abstract and surrealist artists that had a strong influence on him such as, Max Ernst, Paul Klee and Joan Miró, but also, the blossoming contemporary art atmosphere of Paris provided him with countless opportunities. In 1938, Asger decided to return to Denmark, where he organised his first solo exhibition, in Copenhagen.

With the outbreak of WWII, Asger emerged as one of prominent artists to protest against Nazi occupation of Denmark with illustrations for popular magazines such as ‘Helhesten’ and ‘Land og Folk’. In 1945, Asger produced a series of 23 etchings entitled, ‘Occupations 1939-45’. Following the war, his focus drifted towards other theoretic subjects and he emerged as a strong critic of the capitalist system.

In 1948, Asger along with other influential artists such as Corneille, Karel Appel, Constant, Joseph Noiret and Christian Dotremont, laid the foundation of the prolific and progressive artist group, CoBrA. CoBrA is basically an acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, the cities where its members hailed from, and its aim was to encourage freedom of expression and experimentation of art which revolves around folk art, art of the insane and graffiti, basically all unconventional and primitive concepts that have been rejected previously. In 1949, CoBrA organised its first exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

In 1954, Asger published his first art-theoretic book, ‘Helg og Hasard’, and later that year, he along with Enrico Baj founded the ‘Mouvement International pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste’ (MIBI). In 1963, he established the Institute for Comparative Vandalism. Towards his last years, Asger began conducting extensive travels and experimenting with other artistic mediums and techniques such as ceramics, prints, book illustration, tapestries, collages, and most importantly, sculptures.

Asger Jorn passed away on May 1, 1973. Some of his best known works include, ‘The Timid Proud One’, ‘Stalingrad’, ‘Mural in Havana’, ‘Jardin des Etres’, ‘Le bon Sauvage’, and ‘Letter to my Son’ among many others.

Asger Jorn Paintings

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