52museums – Day 3

Post 1: Niels Hansen Jacobsen – the ceramist (video)
In his lifetime Niels Hansen Jacobsen produced a sizable collection of ceramics, in fact at times it put his creation of large sculptures on the back burner. He was especially fond of exploring a variety of glazes. His stoneware production can be split, roughly, into two main categories, industrial art – like this piece – and sculptural works. Most of his industrial pieces started as classically turned on the wheel pieces. However, he would then work them into an array of shapes using his fingers, or other tools at hand.

Post 2: Stylized Mountain Landscape (video)
In Paris, Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s stoneware was on show from 1898 among “Les objects des arts décoratifs” at the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts. His unique contribution to the history of European ceramics is ”leaded stoneware”. “Stylized Mountain Landscape” holds an important place in the tale of Danish symbolist art. Out of the oven he took an amorph stoneware lump, partly covered in a thick shiny glaze, contrasted with a coarse, mat surface. He then added the mountain peaks, the waterfall and the base – all cast and modelled in lead!

Post 3: Leaded stoneware
In this piece Niels Hansen Jacobsen has combined a more classically turned shape with his iconic lead detail to form another beautiful “leaded stoneware” piece. Jacobsen very rarely dated his pieces, but he has signed and dated this one 1910.

Post 4: Naturalistic shaped stoneware
Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s sculptural focus was changed when he in Paris met the craze for Asiatic stoneware. Trained as a sculptor clay had till then been but a means of modelling sculptures – suddenly glaze made it possible to decide the tones! He worked with ceramics for the rest of his life producing lots of sculptural work along with pots of all shapes and sizes! Here are but a few examples of his more naturalistic stoneware pieces. Our collection has, over the years, grown to include several of his stoneware busts featuring a wide variety of glazing techniques.

Post 5: Masks (video)
In the late 1890s / early 1900s, many artists in Europe found inspiration in the Japanese artistic traditions that were coming into Europe as a result of the opening of the Japanese market. Niels Hansen Jacobsen seem to have taken inspiration from their mask tradition, here are but a few examples. “The Autumn Mask” was modelled in Paris prior to 1899 when it appeared in Julius Meier-Graefe’s article about Niels Hansen Jacobsen in the German magazine “Dekorative Kunst”. “The Spring Mask”, a rounder and softer shape, was depicted the same year in the French magazine “Art et Décoration”. His troll masks have a distinct Nordic touch – but are unthinkable without the influence of the Japanese masks of the Noh-theatre. Three of Niels Hansen Jacobsen’s stoneware masks were shown at the Musée d’Orsay in the 2008-show “Masques de Carpeaux à Picasso” curated by Édourd Papet.

Post 6: The Story of Danish Stoneware (video)
Our museum director Teresa Nielsen gives a very brief introduction into ‘The Story of Danish Stoneware’: Niels Hansen Jacobsen was one of the first Danish artist producing stoneware in Paris in the 1890’s. From about 1900 H.A. Hjorth on the island of Bornholm was the pioneer on Danish soil. His small bowl form 1911 was decorated by chance as a Seger cone fell onto the edge! Arne Bang popularized stoneware working with floral or rib decorations and an array of glazes. In 2011 The Vejen Art Museum created a large Arne Bang-show and a database with many hundreds of objects (Can be found on our Danish website).
Video: visualvvork

Post 7: Artists Working in Clay (video)
Our museum director Teresa Nielsen gives a very brief introduction into ‘Artists Working in Clay’: Th. Bindesbøll was a pioneer of European modernism designing furniture, silver and decorating ceramics in the scrafitto-manner with a scratched outline. At the Kähler workshop Karl Hansen-Reistrup in the 1890’s gave the calabas shaped vase an art nouveau decoration. Susanna stepping out of the bath was made in 1917 by the painter-sculptor Jais Nielsen – and the COBRA-painter Asger Jorn in 1953 decorated the plate and in the 1960’s presented the pair of Bindesbøll vases to The Vejen Art Museum.
Video: visualvvork


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.

52museums – Day 1

Post 1: Introduction to our Troll Fountain (video)
HELLO! Welcome to a week with The Vejen Art Museum. We are proud to be the first Danish art museum on 52museums. We look forward to giving you glimpses of Danish art at the turn of the century, 1900, Danish symbolism and art nouveau. Our Troll Fountain, made by Niels Hansen Jacobsen, was unveiled in 1923. It was used for cooling hot water from the nearby power station. Until the 1950’s the burning hot water circulated all hours of the day, all year round – even when ice gave the Troll what the sculptor called “Winter Fur”.
Music: ‘Trold’ by Anders Tærsbøl Feddersen

Post 2: The Troll (video)
The Danish sculptor Niels Hansen Jacobsen lived in Paris in the 1890’s, but was on vacation in Copenhagen in the summer of 1896. Having no studio, he rented part of the basement under the newly built National Gallery (@SMK). It was there he modelled The Troll – a figure from his childhood memories. In 1923 a bronze version was placed in the centre of the fountain in Vejen. The cascading water was boiling hot and on cool days a steamy haze enveloped the fountain.


Post 3: Introducing the Vejen Art Museum building
The citizens of Vejen cofinanced The Vejen Art Museum for the sculptor Niels Hansen Jacobsen. He was born in Vejen in 1861 and died there in 1941. The museum was inaugurated on the 1st of July 1924 with three purposes in mind. The huge Sculpture Chamber (1) became his exhibition space, to the north was his private home (2) and to the south his studio (3).

Post 4: The Vejen Art Museum buildings (video)
The Vejen Art Museum opened in 1924 presenting the life’s work of Niels Hansen Jacobsen in the octagonal Sculpture Chamber. In 1938 the octagonal chamber to the south was added and in 1975 the long narrow passage was built in order to connect to the neighboring building from 1940. Since 1983/2000 it has housed the museum’s temporary exhibitions, storage of collections and workshops.
The museum recently received a grant of 28,6 mill. Dkr. from The A.P. Møller Foundation. They will be financing a new building where the long passage presently stands.
Arial footage: LLN Press, Vejen

Post 5: Niels Hansen Jacobsen in his livingroom
In a photograph from the late 1930’s the sculptor Niels Hansen Jacobsen is seen in his private sitting room in the northern end of the museum. He is reading a book about the Dutch sculptor Joseph Mendes da Costa. About 1905 Jacobsen and his colleagues wanted to invite the Dutch artist to exhibit in Copenhagen. The plans never matured, but in 2005 a selection of Mendes da Costas works visited the Vejen Art Museum on loan from the collections of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterloo.

Post 6: Old photos of the museum (video)
The museum collections hold a fine collection of old photographs from The Vejen Art Museum. We can see how the sculptor Niels Hansen Jacobsen wanted us to experience his life’s work – crammed tight and showing as many aspects as possible with the green plants to give a break from all the white plaster! His studio to the south soon became a part of the museum with the collection of paintings – gifts from The New Carlsberg Foundation (@nycarlsbergfondet). The brewer Carl Jacobsen insisted that a large part of the factories income was to be spent on bringing art out to as many people as possible in the Copenhagen area as well as in Vejen!


Post 7: The museum at present (video)
We leave you today with a look at the museum at present. The top lit octagonal Sculpture Chamber rises to 12 meters, holding the life’s work of Niels Hansen Jacobsen. The interplay between the plants and the sculptures in plaster, bronze and marble was a tradition he brought home with him from the salons in Paris. His home stands as he left it in 1941 and – as you might have seen in our previous post – his studio was already in his lifetime turned into an art gallery.
Music: ‘Til Anne’ by Anders Tærsbøl Feddersen