J.F. Willumsens Museum
20 June - 31 December 2019
Jorgen Haugen Sorensen, 2018:
'JF Willumsen, as a young person, I have seen Charlottenborg. I remember that he looked so small in a very big coat. He entered the door of Charlottenborg with some people he should have met with - it must have been a few years before I made my debut at Charlottenborg in 1953. But I remember him clearly because I was a big admirer of him. Willumsen, but also the sculptor Hansen Jacobsen are probably the two Danish artists who have influenced me the most.
I had seen Willumsen's great relief at the National Museum of Art, where it was permanently suspended, as I remember his trilogy "Tizian dying" once the pictures were displayed on Den Frie. "It was especially Heaven's happiness with Himself as a tiger who conceived me mysteriously and a big unanswered question-I came to think of William Blake's:" Tiger, Tiger, burning bright, in the forest of the night ... "
Willumsen impressed me that he dared stand alone in Danish art and was very different from his contemporary; a monumental artist who made himself deep and thoughtful about life. As a "mountaineer" that reflects power and authority is a good example, but it was especially the "way" to paint that drives him as "the way" is also important to me.
Willumsen died in 1958, the same year I exhibited at the Venice Biennial with three graphic artists, Palle Nielsen, Poul Christensen and Sigurd Vasegaard.
It was the most relaxed invitation I received. I lived in a wooden studio in Fuglevad at Ragnhild Madsen, who was actually daughter-in-law of the same Karl Madsen, the art historian who had sabotaged "The King's Son" in Willumsen's youth work in 1889, which had major consequences for both Willumsen and the image itself. From Fuglevad I went to the National Museum of Art to meet with the current Dir. Jørn Rubow. It was then intended that he should see what I had done for the biennial, but when he heard that my studio was in Fuglevad, he took off his headcoat as he thought it was too far away. I was 23 years old and not ready for the show.
Now I am soon as old as J.F. Willumsen was when I saw him at Charlottenborg when dir. Lisbeth Lund invites me to enter into a dialogue with Willumsen next year. It is an old wish that fulfills and a great honor, because in many ways I am still a great admirer of him.
I can see that there are parallels in some of the motives of our art. Battle scenes, the sympathy for the less fortunate society and the war's theme, we have both dealt with: Willumsens in their erasures from the time of World War I, and I in my latest ceramic sculptures and drawings. We have the joy of ceramics in common and many of the big European champions.
In Willumsen's works, there are clear traces of art he has searched for on his many travels, which reflects in his work. El Grego, Tizian and Goya, but also the fashionist Pontormo and the soured religious colors that the Grünewald used in the Isemheim altar are visible as the Art of Jugend is a present and reminds me of the Catalan artist Josep Maria Sert.
Another comparative feature is the choice of a life abroad. I lived, like Willumsen, in Paris for a number of years and Willumsen stayed at Carrara for a time to select the different colored marble for his "big relief" at Lazzarini's workshop, which is close to "my" town, Pietrasanta.
I am looking forward to meeting Willumsen at his museum.'