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Asger Jorn

Asger Jorn

*  1914 Vejrum/Jütland
† 1973 Aarhus

The artist - his original name was Asger Oluf Jørgensen - began painting in 1930 after a teacher-training. His early paintings were small landscapes and portraits, inspired by Danish contemporary folk art. The first abstract works came into existence from 1935 on. In 1937 he worked together with Fernand Léger on the large decorations for Le Corbusier's 'Pavillon des Temps Nouveaux' for the Paris World Exhibition. Jorn's early work is strongly influenced by Paul Klee, Joan Miró and Max Ernst. Jorn developed a typical form of gestic Expressionism, which is typical not only for his painted oeuvre but also for his ceramics and his tapestries. The artist founded the group COBRA in 1949 together with Appel, Constant, Corneille, Dotremont and Noiret. The group had its first large exhibition in 1949 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The group's aim was to enforce spontaneity and expressivity in art and to challenge the artistic domination of Paris. Between 1951 and 1953, essays and poems on art came into being and one year later Jorn founded the 'Mouvement International pour un Bauhaus imaginiste' together with Enrico Bay in response to Max Bill's Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm. Jorn achieved international fame at the end of the 1950s. He participated at the documenta in Kassel in 1959 and 1964. As leader of the 'Situationistische Internationale', a group of artists, who took a stand against capitalistic functionalism, Jorn composed several important manifestos. He caused a stir by declining the Guggenheim award in 1964. In the 1960s he overpainted oil paintings and oil prints of department store and salon paintings from the 19th century, the so-called 'Modifications' or 'Défigurations', further, he created ceramics and collages, in 1964 décollages and torn pieces of paper, which he put together in a new way. After an intensive occupation with Scandinavian photography, Jorn resumed painting intensively in 1966; between 1970 and 1972 another huge œuvre of paintings came into being. During his last years the artist mainly attended to sculpture. In the year of his death - Asger Jorn died on 1 May 1973 in Aarhus - a retrospective was opened at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover, which was shown afterwards at the National Gallery in Berlin as well as at the museums of Brussels, Aalborg and Humlebaek.