Like/unlike Jackson Pollock: Danish Cobra Art and its Framing

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentationForedrag og mundtlige bidrag


In 1964 an exhibition of Danish art toured the United States under the title Danish Abstract Art. It showed a number of artists from the Høst and Cobra exhibition collaborations as well as a few other artists with more tenuous relation to the Høst-Cobra. The catalogue by art writer and art “entrepreneur” on the Danish art scene, architect Robert Dahlmann Olsen, opens with an analogy by making reference to Jackson Pollock and then introducing the Danish artists and the Danish art scene.

I want to argue that this exhibition and the discussions building up to it embody the analogical structures haunting art writing on Danish Cobra art to this day. The matter of exhibiting Danish art in America presented a need and a temptation to draw on analogies: to seduce and educate, to place Danish artists in an internationally understandable vocabulary, to highlight the Danish Master artists as being in the same category as Jackson Pollock: to be Danish world class a. o. The core of the exhibiting artists worked in a gestural abstraction, which has a history in art writing of being discussed in analogy to American abstract expressionism. Scholars agree the two strands of expression are not the same, but there seems to be a continuous need to draw and redraw the analogy – as well as reject it.

My paper combines the fields of exhibition history and historiography as well as drawing on archival materials from the Ferlov-Mancoba archive, which has not formerly been discussed in art history. I will analyse the Jackson Pollock analogy with regards to the Danish Abstract Art-exhibition and its ongoing repetition in art writing as well as discuss the validity and purpose of maintaining this obviously problematic analogy.
Periode17 okt. 2020
Begivenhedstitel2020 Online Conference of the Universities Art Association of Canada: F.1 Analogy in Art History and Museum Practice
PlaceringVancouver, CanadaVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational