Sunday 7 July 2013

Asger Jorn in Louisiana

A founding member of the avant garde COBRA movement and the Situationist International, Asger Jorn espoused the Situationist general principles which attacked capitalist exploitation and degradation of people. He believed in the construction of alternative life experiences, as well as in the union of play, freedom and critical thinking. He tried to apply such principles to his painting.

In 1936 he rode to Paris on a BSA motorbike, to become a student of Kandinsky and it was during this period that he moved away from figurative painting and turned to abstract art.

The occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany was a time of deep crisis for him as had been a pacifist and he became an active communist resistant. After the war, he complained that opportunities for critical thinking within the context of the communist arena had been curtailed by what he characterised as centralised bourgeois political control, and finding this unacceptable, he broke with the Danish Communist Party. He remained committed philosophically to the Marxist analysis of capitalism.

In 1964 he was awarded a Guggenheim award which included a generous cash prize. The following day he sent this telegram to the president of the Guggenheim:

'Go to hell bastard - stop - refuse prize - stop - never asked for it - stop - against all decency mix artist against his will in your publicity - stop - I want public confirmation not to have participated in your ridiculous game'.

There is a permanent Asger Jorn gallery in Louisiania,

and these are some of the paintings we saw:

Mobile Standstill, 1966

Both Worlds, 1944

Green Market, 1944

Personnage, 1960

Titania II, 1940-41

Instructive Extruction of a Konstruktif Destruction, 1966

Nocturne III, 1959

Red Meadows, Green Boys, 1966-68

Nothing Happens, 1962

Something Stays Behind, 1963.

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