Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/billedkunst.dk. Asger Jorn working on decorating a nationalised bank in Cuba.

© Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/billedkunst.dk.
Asger Jorn working on decorating a nationalised bank in Cuba.

Jorn’s legacy

Asger Jorn was one of the greatest Danish artists of all time, but what kind of impact has he had on contemporary artists? We have asked two Danish contemporary artists about their relationship with Jorn the man and Jorn the artist.

John Kørner – the quintessential socially aware artist

When did you first encounter Asger Jorn’s art?

My parents took me to the Louisiana museum in Humlebæk, where they exhibited his large mask paintings and some of his sculptural works. Those works were amongst the first modern art I ever saw.

I was ten years old at the time, so I don’t recall having any particular opinion about it, but I was able to identify the works as modern art. I remember that their ferocity and wildness held a particular fascination for me. They represented a fierce energy that showed me it was OK to go all the way – particularly as a man – and I think I subconsciously interpreted these paintings in that way. They’re still wild and fierce.

Has Jorn had any impact on your own work?

I greatly appreciate his serious approach to things, his earnestness, and his social commitment. Engaging in society is a trait we share. And indeed I think that this is one of his strongest suits. I also believe that he represents a fully rounded totality as a person and as an artist. 

He is not just a graphic artist, a painter, or a ceramicist; you must consider him and his art as a whole. This totality encompasses social and political aspects, too. To me he is the very epitome of a socially aware, politically engaged contemporary artist of the 1960s.

About John Kørner

John Kørner was born in 1967 in Aarhus, spent his childhood on Lolland and now lives in Copenhagen. He graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1998 and has received a wide range of awards, including the Carnegie Art Award in 2000 and 2008. 

John Kørner’s art is exhibited at museums throughout the world, including the Tate Gallery and Saatchi Collection in London, ARoS, Arken, and here at the SMK. 

Two works by John Kørner are featured in the SMK’s permanent display of Danish and International Art after 1900

John Kørner i færd med at male

© John Kørner

Ferdinand Ahm Krag – an eye-opening experience

When did you first encounter Asger Jorn’s art?

For quite a long time I equated Asger Jorn with Cobra painting, which I had mentally shelved on one of the lower rungs in art history. But during my studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts our professor arranged a trip to Museum Jorn in Silkeborg. That was a truly eye-opening experience. We all sat in complete silence before Asger Jorn’s painting Stalingrad for a long time, and it was difficult for us to find any words to describe what we saw. 

The next morning we woke up with the most horrific hangover and were subjected to acoustic torture in the form of LPs featuring Asger Jorn’s and Jean Dubuffet’s wild improvisations on trumpet. 

As I was leaving the museum I bought Asger Jorn’s book The Natural Order. A completely impossible, utterly anarchic book that burst with a boundless sense of curiosity and a megalomaniac will, causing the reader to experience exasperation and moments of euphoria in equal measure. I remember thinking that the sheer range of Jorn’s work was absolutely striking, and that his scope was almost infinite.

Has Jorn had any impact on your own work?

Jorn did not see any inherent contrast between being an expressive, creative person and being an analytical person. To Jorn it was all about embracing and unfolding all aspects of being human. 

Jorn wanted thoughts and ideas to be celebratory, bursting with energy, and at times his writings resemble a blurry orgy of thoughts and ideas. They smash a fist right through all the sharp delineations between different fields of study – and that is something I have taken to heart.

About Ferdinand Ahm Krag

Ferdinand Ahm Krag was born in 1977 and graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006. He has taken part in a range of group exhibitions, most recently the exhibition Waves over Graves at Esbjerg Kunstmuseum. 

He is also an art critic, writer, and lecturer. He has received numerous scholarships and is a co-founder of the artist-run exhibition venue IMO. 

Portræt af Ferdinand Ahm Krag

© Ferdinand Ahm Kragh

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Updated: 26.apr.2018
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