Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/billedkunst.dk. Asger Jorn, The Pact of Predators, 1950. SMK. 

© Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/billedkunst.dk
Asger Jorn, The Pact of Predators, 1950. SMK.

1950-1951: Cobra – conflict and breakdown

The Cold War entered the stage of world politics shortly after the end of World War II, making it more difficult to sustain belief in the Cobra movement’s optimistic ambitions for a better society. This, combined with internal conflict on everything from politics to romantic entanglements, brought the final break inexorably closer.

The Cold War began to have its effect on the political and cultural landscape. The Cobra group’s optimistic faith in art and creativity’s ability to help built a new, better society began to fade. Several of Jorn’s works from around 1950 up until the early 1960s relate to the pervading Cold War mentality of the age.

The Pact of the Predators

One of the paintings that reveal the influence of the Cold War experience is The Pact of the Predators, shown at the top of this page. Jorn has stated that the painting was created "at a time when I was ill and depressed, about to be hospitalised in a sanatorium just as the North Atlantic Treaty entered the world. I could only regard this as a treaty made between predators, and that is what I had in mind when I painted the picture."

Poverty, tuberculosis, and love

This was a period of many personal trials and conflicts for Jorn. Poverty and poor housing conditions caused him to catch tuberculosis, and he spent 18 months committed to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Silkeborg. Around this time he also fell in love with the wife of fellow Cobra artist Constant Nieuwenhuys and decided to leave his wife and children in Denmark. 

Ultimately, the conflicts spelled the end of the Cobra group. "None of us dreamed that in spite of everything we had realised something truly unique", said Jorn in 1963, looking back on his time with the group.

Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/billedkunst.dk. Asger Jorn (1914-73), Falbo, II, 1951. Canica Art Collection.

© Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/billedkunst.dk
Asger Jorn, Falbo, II, 1951. Canica Art Collection.

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Updated: 26.apr.2018
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