Concepts of modernism: Re-evaluating figuration and abstraction in Danish post-war art.

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentationForedrag og mundtlige bidrag


In the 1950s, Danish sculptor Robert Jacobsen developed two different modes of sculptural expression. He created geometrical abstract iron sculptures with a calligraphic appearance and an extensive use of negative space. At the same
time, he made a series of “dolls”, sculptures made from scrap metal. They were narrative and anecdotal in appearance. In art history, the two forms of expression have been seen as having nothing in common, and the dolls, although owned by
many museums, are rarely, if ever, on show.

Robert Jacobsen was the in-house artist at the Gallery Denise René, opened in Paris in 1944. The dolls caused a dispute between him and his French agent, Denise René, who refused to exhibit them. Her marginalisation of the dolls in favour of Jacobsen’s abstract sculptures has shaped later art historical writings on Jacobsen. The dolls were, however, at the time of their making well received by critics, buyers and museums and connected to a wide network of cultural and artistic influences in the European context.

In my paper, I discuss why and how we should change the art historical narrative on Robert Jacobsen and what insights we can gain from changing our approach and what difficulties we encounter when we historicise old narrative frameworks of abstraction/figuration and centre/periphery.
Periode17 maj 2021
BegivenhedstitelCross-border connectivity in Nordic-Baltic Art in the late 19th and 20th centuries
PlaceringParis, FrankrigVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • Modernisme (Kunstens stilarter 70.15; Litterære stilarter 80.15)
  • Abstrakt kunst
  • migration
  • Kunsthistorisk metode
  • center-periferi kritik
  • Historiografi