1954-1963: Experiments with materials and space
In the mid-1950s Jorn lived in Italy, where he devoted much energy to experimenting with materials. He was particularly interested in ceramics and architecture.
In 1954 Jorn moved to the small Italian town of Albisola, which is famous for its long-standing ceramic tradition. Here Jorn would experiment more intently with ceramics.
Experimenting with materials and ceramics
Jorn experimented greatly: he would add salt, asphalt, bitumen, and silver granulate to his paints while painting and would drive a scooter through the wet clay as part of the creative process behind the large-scale ceramic relief Århus Statsgymnasium (1959), which became his main work within the ceramic medium.
In his Luxury Paintings (1961) he dripped and poured lacquer onto the canvases, and in his Jubilee Series (1963) of prints he dipped balls in lithographic ink and let them roll across the printing plate.
A new avant-garde group
While living in Albisola Jorn founded the avant-garde group Mouvement Internationale Pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste (The International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus). The group numbered former members of Cobra as well as new Italian acquaintances of Jorn’s.
Jorn’s view of architecture
Jorn’s keen interest in architecture had been awakened during his stay in Paris in the 1930s. According to Jorn architecture had to spring from human needs and social interaction. He believed that Functionalism –and, hence, most modern architecture and many of its architects – were wrong to base their work on rational theories and a "pure" dehumanised aesthetic.
Jorn’s home in Albisola showcased his views on architecture. When he bought the property in 1957 it was in ruins, but he refurbished and decorated the buildings, integrating them in a garden laid out with brightly coloured tile paths, flowers, containers, sculptures, stalactites, and fragments of ceramics. The Albisola house came to embody Jorn’s architectural vision: collectively decorated, complex, varied, and organic in its growth – rather like life itself.