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AS IN NATURE

The Sculptor Mogens Bøggild

21 March – 1 September 2013

Mogens Bøggild (1901-1987) was the greatest naturalist sculptor in Denmark in the 20th century. With sketches and models for major public monuments such as the Radio Sculpture in front of Radiohuset, the Danish “Broadcasting House”, in Rosenørns Allé and the Ceres Fountain in front of the town hall in Aarhus, Thorvaldsens Museum was for the first time mounting an exhibition focused on the works of Bøggild that were on show in public places.

Bøggild, Radiofoniskulpturen
Mogens Bøggild, Radio Sculpture. Erected 1950.

About the Exhibition

The exhibition was specifically concerned with sculptures by Bøggild standing in places in which they are generally on view to the public: the Ceres Fountain in Aarhus, the Bear Fountain in Nykøbing Falster, the Radio Sculpture in Copenhagen, Stag and Boar at Hillerød, the Boar Fountain at Sønderborg Castle and Two Sisters at Glostrup. Of course, we were not exhibiting the actual works. They are where they are and they are accessible to all. The same does not, however, apply to the essential preparatory materials in the form of sketches and models such as were being put on show here. The aim of the exhibition was to gain a new understanding of the finished sculptures with the help of these sketches – probing right down to the premises on which they were made and seeking to reveal the thoughts the artist had in each case.

And the sketches and models were no less interesting than the finished works, as Bøggild had a predilection for the work associated with the sketch and the actual processes. He may well have been slow to produce the finished works, but his hands moved with lightning speed when modelling his sketches. He worked with a will and clearly felt a sensuous delight in the clay in which he was working.

With its focus on sketches and models, the exhibition represented an extension and what might be termed an afterlife in the public sphere. It interacted with what is outside and it related to these works. After seeing the exhibition, visitors would wish to view the works in their finished forms. The sketches and models were intended to provide greater delight in and insight into the sculptures, which many people had not been able to avoid noticing even if they had not quite been aware of the artist’s name. It was this that the exhibition seeked to correct.

A Sharp Eye for nature

The special quality about the sculptor Mogens Bøggild wass that he put naturalness above everything else. At a time when art was to be abstract, he, as a naturalist, always insisted on taking the study of nature as his starting point. It was his view that the artist who failed to acknowledge the observation of nature as the basis of all art ran a great risk of being superficial or of going off at a tangent.

So Bøggild usually sought his motifs among animals. And it was above all the dramatic aspects of animal life and the capturing of a particular moment that especially concerned him: the animal caught in the midst of a specific movement such as the eagle flapping its wings, the piglets running around and the stag uttering its cry. But Bøggild’s animal motifs nevertheless also tell us about human beings. They are all concerned with human existence. When we see the Ceres Fountain, also known as the Pig Fountain we are not only to think of a sow with its young, but also of a mother with her children.

Thanks

The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue containing texts by the museum director, Stig Miss, the curator William Gelius and Rasmus Kjærboe of Aarhus University, received support from the Beckett Foundation, the Billedhuggeren, Professor Gottfred Eickhoff og Hustru Fond, Maleren Gerda Eickhoffs Fond, Knud Højgaards Fond, Oda og Hans Svenningsens Fond and Overretssagfører L. Zeuthens Mindelegat.

The exhibition was arranged by curator William Gelius and Ulla Norton Kierkgaard.

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