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Erik Ortvad (1917-2008)

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One of the founding cities of the COBRA movement is Copenhagen and one of the true Danish COBRA members was Erik Ortvad.

Ortvad was born on the 6th of June, 1917 in Copenhagen. He was a painter and a graphic artist, who was known to be an autodidact. He has been painting since 1935 from a very young age. In this period his paintings were influenced by the surrealistic and abstract style of Ejler Bille (1910-2004), Vilhelm Bjerke Petersen (1909-1957) and the artists group called Linien (The Line) (1934-1949). During 1941 and 1942 Ortvad was, just like many other Danish artists and contemporaries, in search of more spontaneity in the course of his creative process. He began to paint with a more spontaneous-abstract style, at which he would use small brushstrokes to purvey his canvases on numerous occasions with the colours grey, pink, yellow and blue.

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Ortvad joined the Danish pre-war experimental artists association Høst (1942-1949) in 1945 as the youngest member. Through Høst he came in contact with members of CoBrA (1948-1951), an international post-war avant-garde movement that believed that art must originate from artistic freedom, fantasy and spontaneity. Ortvad’s artworks were shown in 1948 at the Van Lier gallery in Amsterdam. His artworks were also shown in 1949 and 1951 at the renowned CoBrA exhibitions in Amsterdam and Liège. Ortvad decided a year after the abolishing of CoBrA to put his paintworks aside and focus on his desire to draw cartoons. He did this under the pseudonym ‘Enrico’. After the year 1960 he directed his focus on his spontaneous painting style once again. In contrast with his earlier works, his later works are defined by a powerful characterization existing of fiercely, saturated colours, strong lines and visible brush strokes.

It took al very long time for me personally until I discovered Ortvad, but now that I have encountered his works I believe I like him better than most of his dutch fellow COBRA members. The below publication is available at http://www.ftn-books.com

cobra denmark

 

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Asger Jorn ( 1914-1973)

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I appreciate all the COBRA mouvement artists, but if i had to chose one…it would be Asger Jorn. His paintings have a mysterious quality and within their abstraction one can always recognize a realistic element. Wether its a face, a human figure, an animal they are there …hidden within the picture, brightly colored and sometimes outlined with black. Before COBRA, Jorn was painting realistic scenes, and was an assistant to Le Corbusier, but after he met Appel, Constant and Corneille, with whom he founded COBRA and travelled to France, his style became completely abstract and strongly influenced by child drawings. He discussed this frequently with Christian Dotremont , because they both were ill with tuberculoses and treated within the same hospital in Silkeborg. In this same city, nearby his birth town an Asger Jorn museum was founded and financed by Jorn. http://www.museumjorn.dk/da/

This museum has become one of the most important ones in Denmark.

Jorn is now a classic among modern art lovers and will become more important every decade to come. www.ftn-books.com has some great Asger Jorn titles available in its inventory.