Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 222

EGILL JACOBSEN
     ‒  
Egill Jacobsen was one of the pioneers of a form of Danish abstract expressionism that was later to
result in the international artists’ movement known as Cobra, founded in Paris in

. The name is
derived from the
fi
rst letters of the three capital cities, Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. The
Cobra painters expressed themselves in a spontaneous and violent idiom adorned with monsters,
masks and bird-like creatures inspired by children’s drawings, folk art and the art of the South Seas.
One of the main
fi
gures in the association was another Danish painter, Asger Jorn (


).
Jacobsen makes use of an artistic mask idiom that is clear, logical, lyrical and often pervaded by
a strangely gentle tone that is entirely his own.
His father, who occupied a modest position as a copyist, spent much of his free time painting
copies from reproductions. His pictures were fairly inept, but they embodied an unconditional respect
for art that made its mark on his son.
This son became apprenticed as a tailor, but he abandoned the trade and after a period at Carl
Schwenn’s school of painting was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He stayed there
for only about a year, as he felt that the institution could not teach him anything. Egill Jacobsen’s work
fi
rst appeared in the Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling in

, and in countless exhibitions throughout
his life, the most important of which were artists’ associations: Linien

, Corner &Høst


,
Grønningen, from

with a few breaks until

, then again from


. His work also
appeared in a large number of both group and solo exhibitions in museums and galleries at home and
abroad. These include the Venice Biennale in

and

and the São Paulo Biennale in

.
Egill Jacobsen’s early pictures were small, naturalistic motifs from the outer districts of Copen-
hagen, painted with broad strokes in dark colours. Jacobsen himself relates that the Danish Golden
Age painters played an important part in his artistic career.
Of lasting importance to Egill Jacobsen’s development towards an abstract idiom was a visit to
Paris in

, and, after his return, contact with such artists as Ejler Bille (


), who was then
mainly a sculptor, and the painter Richard Mortensen (


), who later became taken by concrete
abstract art, and the surrealist Vilhelm Bjerke Petersen (


).
Among the works Jacobsen had seen in Paris were pictures by Picasso (


), Matisse
(


), Braque (


), Max Ernst (


) and Miró (


), and he had also visited
the ethnographic collections in the Musée de l’Homme, where the obvious connection between modern
art and primitive non-European art had fascinated him.
Egill Jacobsen and his friends subsequently made the acquaintance of the psychologist Dr. Sigurd
Næsgaard (


), and for a time Jacobsen attended his lectures on psychology, psychoanalysis
and the importance of the subconscious in relation to the abstract idiom in art.
In

Egill Jacobsen painted
Ophobning (Accumulation),
now in Statens Museum for Kunst,

]
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