(Vejrum, 1914 - Aarhus, 1973)
Asger Jorn started his career painting portraits and landscapes. In1934 his work was influenced by cubism and the abstract style ofpainting. He became acquainted with the group called “lienien”. At theage of 21 he went to live in Paris. He followed the lessons of FernandLeger and worked with Le Corbusier for some time. The confrontationwith the spontaneous work of Egill Jacobsen in 1937 marked the start ofhis struggle to arrive at a totally free way of self-expression.
Afterthis meeting Jorn started painting totally abstract and surrealistwhile he experimented with the automatic way of working of Arp, Miro,Ernst and Chinese calligraphy. After the war Jorn, founder of themagazine ‘Helhesten’ in 1941, which he advocates a free expressive wayof painting, wanted to join the Belgian and French surrealists. In 1942he joined “Host”. In 1946 he got to know Constant and Atlan in Paris.
Hemanaged to bring together the starting-points of surrealist“automatism” and the world of Norse myths and sagas in the CoBrA group,of which he was the co-founder and the source of inspiration. In theCoBrA period his style was of a vehement dramatic nature with heavyshapes and dark colours. Only in the first half of the nineteen fiftiesdid he find the style which made him famous internationally. Thevehement line of movement in his previous work changed into adramatically moving mass of paint in which emerge vague beings, spiritsor hazy visions. Jorn experimented with all kinds of techniques. Inthis way he also worked in Ceramics. In 1959 he made a huge ten tonnesweighing mural decoration in ceramics for the State High School inAarhus, Denmark.
As Constant Jorn developed revolutionary ideasabout the role of the artist in Western society. In 1956 he founded, asa reaction to Max Bill, who wanted to realise a second Bauhaus in Ulm,with Enrico Baj the “Mouvement International pour un BauhausImaginiste”. The MIBI-congress of 1956 at which Constant was present aswell, was a step in the direction of Situationist International (1957 –1969), of which he was one of the founders. This organisation combinedforces for a collective participation in art by artists and citizens whose purpose it is to change society and this society itself has to become art.
Jorn had numerous exhibitions at home and abroad among which the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1964) and after his death the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1982) and the Stadtische Galerie in Lenbachhaus, Munich (1987). Jorn donated a large number of his own works and those of artist friends of his to the museum of modern art in Silkeborg.