Asger Jorn (1914-73) was a giant of Danish and European post-war art. The output from his late, international career is a focal point of the Louisiana collection and was shown in a dynamic juxtaposition with early works, deriving from Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg.
The presentation of Asger Jorn’s works – extended to encompass one of the glass corridors – was the first manifestation in Humlebæk of the close partnership between Louisiana and Kunsten Museum of Modern Art – Alvar Aalto’s masterpiece in Aalborg, Northern Jutland. A central figure at both institutions, Jorn’s role varies according to the history of the museums and the nature of their collections.
Together, the selection of works from the two museums offered a nuanced look at the major lines of Jorn’s art. The range of his work testifies to his status as the most important Danish artist of the 20th century.
Danish & international
The collection of Kunsten Museum of Modern Art spotlights Jorn’s early development in Denmark during World War II and up to the mid-1950s, when he mainly worked abroad.
Kunsten’s Jorn provides a foundation for the late, internationally acclaimed artist featured in the Louisiana’s collection. At Kunsten, Jorn is typically presented alongside other artists of the Danish wartime avant-garde.
The Louisiana shows him solo out of the Danish context, reflecting the museum’s change of course shortly after its opening towards an international focus.
The story of Jorn at Kunsten and Louisiana is also the story of the insight and generosity that private collectors and foundations have bestowed on the two institutions over the years. Kunsten’s holdings are based on the 1967 acquisition of the singular collection of Anna and Kresten Krestensen.
Louisiana founder Knud W. Jensen showed an early interest in Jorn, acquiring a number of key works. But it was only thanks to the donation by Jytte and Dennis Dresing of the Merla Art Foundation, in 1999-2003, that the Jorn collection gained a heft comparable to other 20th-century classics at the museum in Humlebæk.
Asger Jorn (1914-73) is one of the most important figures in twentieth-century Danish art.
He was in every way a boundary-breaking artist – on the international art scene, in the COBRA movement, the Situationist International and much more, including his ideas on the artist’s role in society.
The challenges he addressed for artistic media, the materials themselves, were legendary and lifelong. He worked in and on all known categories of visual art, and he had a special eye for exploding categorizations, if it was at all possible for him.
Dead Drunk Danes, 1960
Both worlds, 1944
Nocturne III, 1959
Titania II, 1940-41
Asger Jorn knew more about art history than most artists, and the very diverse corpus of his writings as well as his works exhibited the fertile cross-currents and correlations that occupied his thought.
He was particularly cross-disciplinary, for example, when he wrote of the entire Nordic folk art coupled with his astoundingly wide reading in the humanities and literature. Sometimes eye-opening and of great importance for the dissemination of art in general; at other times strange, exotic and at the edge of the obscure.