National Gallery of Denmark

28 March 2007 - 3 March 2008

While we wait - Sculptor of the year at the National Gallery of Denmark

Smug pigs, dancing carcases, evil-minded dogs and hordes of people with smashed-in mouths. No punches are pulled when the sculptor Jørgen Haugen Sørensen provides an acerbic view of our present day in a new, monumental exhibition in the Sculpture Street at Statens Museum for Kunst.

Sculptor of the Year 2007 - Jørgen Haugen Sørensen

With this exhibition, Statens Museum for Kunst introduces a new initiative: a series of annual special exhibitions which explore the present state of contemporary, classically-founded sculpture. Each year, the museum will invite a specially selected sculptor to create an exhibition of their own works in the glass-covered Sculpture Street which links the red museum building with the white.   

The first sculptor to enter the scene is the internationally renowned Danish sculptor Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, who colonises the entire 2.000 m² Sculpture Street with an enormous selection of works. The first of its kind, the exhibition provides a comprehensive insight into Jørgen Haugen Sørensen’s later work and his return to clay as an artistic medium. The formats vary from sculptures weighing up to four tonnes to miniature motivic groups. Several of the works were created specifically for this exhibition.

About the artist

Jørgen Haugen Sørensen (b. 1934) is among Denmark’s pre-eminent sculptors. Since his debut in 1953 he has brought his consummate, original sense for the, often obscure, potential of his materials to bear in works that present an uncompromising, at times brutal exploration of the human condition in an age without significant common social denominators. As an autodidact artist, he has not only expressed his reservations towards academically schooled art; his entire oeuvre also represents a glaring contrast to the largely theoretical art practiced by contemporary colleagues from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts; colleagues who often dictate the prevailing artistic agenda of the day. Unfettered by allegiances to a specific style and spurred on by the creative forces of his own experience and outlook on life, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen captures universal human conditions - life and death, love and suffering - as the pivotal points of his sculpture. Regardless of whether the sculpture in question is shaped from clay, plaster, fabric, terracotta, moulded in bronze, or carved from stone.

In addition to numerous exhibitions and permanent exhibits at prominent venues in Denmark and abroad, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen has also carried out many large-scale decorative works, e.g. of Sankt Hans Torv and the Assistens Graveyard in Copenhagen, Danmarks Journalisthøjskole [The Danish School of Journalism] in Århus, and the Sakarya high street in Ankara.

The exhibition "While We Wait"

With his usual, pronounced controversial flair for depicting his own time, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen’s exhibition in the Sculpture Street at Statens Museum for Kunst stands as a satirical, unsettling and very unflattering paraphrase of our present day. Violence, suffering, war, suppression, censorship, and freedom of speech are recurring themes in the many works. Here, a bleak outlook appears as an existential - and uncomfortable - clarity of vision.

At the same time the exhibition marks a radical shift in the artist’s idiom. From having worked with a startling, plastic and complex mode of abstraction for years, he has now arrived at a more direct, figure-based and narrative sculpture. The contorted clay signals a new, sensuous expressivity that is unmistakably Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, yet has allegorical layers and an overall quality which suggests a kinship with artists such as Bruegel, Goya, and Tegner.

Accompanying books

The exhibition is accompanied by two books published by Statens Museum for Kunst: Museum Director Allis Helleland has written a large, lavishly illustrated book about Jørgen Haugen Sørensen’s life and work.

Photos copyright The national Gallery of Denmark. Thank you for the generous loan of installation photos.