52museums – Day 2

Post 1: Introducing artist Niels Hansen Jacobsen (video)
Niels Hansen Jacobsen and his wife Gabriele arrived in Paris in 1892 and were lucky to settle in one of the studio-homes at 65, boul. Arago. Their neighbour Eugène Grasset introduced Niels Hansen Jacobsen to Auguste Rodin, and their private collection held work by their neighbour, artist-sculptor Jean Carriès. Among the Scandinavian colleagues were Agnes de Frumerie, Henriette Hahn-Brinckmann, Emil Wikström, Carolina Benedicks and her Canadian husband William Blair Bruce.


Post 2: Death and the Mother
The turning-point of Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s career was the 1893-presentation of “Death and the Mother” – based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a woman seeking to bring her child back from the ‘Garden of Death’. However, towards the end of the story she acknowledges that the decision is not for her to make.
In the piece the artist presents a unique merging of well-trained naturalism and a new symbolist vocabulary. Who is to say what Death looks like? But there is a long tradition to draw on… The jury of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts voted to show the sculpture and invited Jacobsen to become a member – from then on free to exhibited two objects pr. year “hors concours” (free of jury)!

Post 3: The Shadow
Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s absolute masterpiece is “The Shadow” exhibited at the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1898. In year 2000 it was exhibited at Grand Palais in Paris surrounded by sculptural architecture by French Hector Guimard and Spanish Antonio Gaudi – the three artists each representing distinct interpretations of the organic art nouveau style. Following a tale by Hans Christian Andersen the shadow is turned into a memento mori (a symbol of mortality) – the face part cranium and holding an hour glass illustrating the passage of time.

Post 4: Milistarismen (video)
The 3,8 meter high “Militarismen” (militarization) stands to the right in Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s one man show in Copenhagen in 1901. It was first presented in Paris at the 1899 Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts. The sculptor was accused of commenting on the Dreyfus affair. In the 1960’s the Danish COBRA-painter Asger Jorn noted the sculpture as a harbinger of cubism – but figuratively Hansen Jacobsen used the sharp, spiky shapes to describe the aggressiveness of war and may have been commenting on the militarization of the Copenhagen-area. The plaster figure has later been cast in bronze and placed close to the town hall for all to see.

Post 5: Study in glazed stoneware of Militarismen
‘Militarismen’ was cast in bronze in 1967, 26 years after Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s death (check out our stories where the bronze features). Wanting to know what the face and deep set eyes would look like in bronze, the sculptor modeled a small ceramic version of the head and glazed it in tones eluding bronze. The piece is on show in the ceramic collection at the museum.
Foto: Pernille Klemp

Post 6: Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s studio (video)
A few kilometres from Vejen, Niels Hansen Jacobsen in 1914 opened an octagonal studio-museum in Skibelund Krat – a historic meeting place, from 1864 to 1920 on the southern Danish border to Germany. Many important national rallies were held there. In 1938 the building was taken down and rebuilt in Vejen at the southern end of the museum. The artistic relief over the entrance is Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s interpretation of the spirit of sculpture. At the corners stand a couple of Nordic titans.

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