Egill Jacobsen (1910-98), Accumulation, 1938
This early principal work by Egill Jacobsen is a formal innovation within Danish art and a severe comment on international politics. The picture was painted under the shadow of the news of Hitler forcing Czechoslovakia to surrender territory to Nazi Germany. This event presaged Nazi Germany’s plans for expansion and left a deep impression on the 27-year-old painter who was politically active on the left wing.
A dramatic, fierce, evocative and gripping painting
Jacobsen’s response was to paint a picture more dramatic, fierce, evocative, and gripping than any of his previous works. A bird-like figure stands rooted to the spot within a black grid structure, a burning red sun overhead and a reddish-orange sea of flames all around. The picture plane is densely packed; the space claustrophobic. According to Egill Jacobsen himself, this picture was ”painted with the nerve ends”, translating his personal fear of the coming war to a drama of form, colour, and tactility.
A landmark within Danish art history
Accumulation is regarded as a landmark within Danish art history. With its restless rhythm and its forceful brushstrokes, the picture points towards the spontaneous-abstract painting of the decade that followed; a vein of painting that reached its climax with the artists’ association Cobra in 1948-51.