While Bertel Thorvaldsen started out from classical Greek art (and the Roman copies of it), it was now the earlier and more “primitive” archaic art that came into focus. It was Niels Skovgaard who was struck by a sudden insight on seeing archaic sculpture – and when he took the consequence of this inspiration, he embarked on a form of primitivism corresponding to that which was developing in Paris at the time, in which artists like Matisse and Picasso were taking their ideas from the tribal art of Africa. The inspiration from archaic art quickly came to constitute one of the most fertile sources in Danish Modernism. It started with sculptors such as Svend Rathsack, but was further consolidated in the 1920s, when figures such as Astrid Noack, Adam Fischer and Henrik Starcke embarked in earnest on a dialogue with archaic art. They were followed by highly imaginative artists such as Axel Salto and Svend Wiig Hansen, who continued the process – and the track on which they set out has still not dried up.
The exhibition has been arranged by the art historian, Dr Mikael Wivel in collaboration with the director of the museum, Stig Miss, and the curator Kristine Bøggild Johannsen.
The exhibition will subsequently be shown in Bornholms Kunstmuseum from 18 January to 6 April 2015.
Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen: Typhon. 1905. Odense City Museums.
Photo: Odense City Museums.