Asger Jorn /   Asger Oluf Jörgensen

Denmark 1914 - 1973

Sculpture, Painting, Collage

Asger Jorn
Asger Oluf Jörgensen
November 17, 2016
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One of the most recognized 20th-century painters emerging from Denmark, Asger Jorn was an artist best known for his paintings, lithographs and etchings. Through his work, this Danish author experimented with the spontaneity of the line and semi-figurative representations – aspects of Jorn’s practice that put him in a position to be a co-founder of the avant-garde COBRA group in the year of 1948. One of Jorn’s other major contributions to the development of modern art history came after he and his friend, the artist Guy Debord, founded the Situationist International in 1957. Asger Jorn was incredibly prolific as an artist, creating artworks across all mediums, creating painting, sculpture, ceramics and collage.

The Kunst Aarhus Internationale in Paris was pivotal for Asger Jorn
Asger Jorn – The Flying Dutchman, 1959 – Image via

Early Life and Development

Asger Jorn grew up in a home where he was the second oldest of six children. Both of his parents were teachers and they were fundamentalist Christians. Asger’s father, Lars Peter Jørgensen, died in a car crash when Jorn was 12 years old. As a result, the young author was raised by his mother who stayed true to her late husband’s deeply rooted Christian beliefs. This kind of strong religious presence had a negative effect on Asger who started to progressively rebel against it, making the young man feel generally against any form of authority[1]. When he was at the age of 15, Jorn was diagnosed with tuberculosis which forced him to spend three months on the west coast of Jutland. There, he started to read a lot of profound books influenced by N. F. S. Grundtvig and enrolled in the Vinthers Seminarium as soon as he recovered from his illness. Mainly focusing on Scandinavian philosophy during that time, young Asger was also the regular subject of a number of oil paintings made by the painter Martin Kaalund-Jørgensen – an experience which encouraged Jorn to try his own hand in this medium[2]. While at college, the aspiring painter joined the small Silkeborg branch of the Communist Party of Denmark. When he graduated in 1935, he was praised for his extraordinary rich personal development and maturity. The next half a decade was an inspiring chapter of Asger’s life as he traveled around Europe quite a bit.

In 1945, Vejrum and Fernand Jorns joined Bauhaus
Asger Jorn – Untitled (Faces in a Head), 1960 – Image via

COBRA and Situationist International

The occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany was a time of great crisis for Jorn who had been deeply inculcated with pacifism. Such an occurrence initially drove him to a state of deep depression, but he eventually became active in the communist resistance movement. After the World War II came to a halt, Asger again traveled to France. There, he met and founded the COBRA group with Christian Dotremont and Constant. This avant-garde movement eventually became a big hit within many European scenes as the combination of modernism and communism applied to many individuals across the Old Continent. However, Jorn started to feel sick in 1953, yet again feeling the horrible symptoms of tuberculosis. He returned to Silkeborg the same year and started to develop his ceramics works, leaving COBRA group behind. Three years later, Asger met Guy Debord. The two men collaborated on a few artistic books, namely Fin de Copenhagen (1957) and Mémoires (1959). This duo also founded The Situationist International, one of the most notable moments in modern art history. Still fully supporting its contents and goals, Jorn quit his activity in the SI during the year of 1954. The reason why he left was believing that the new strategy of the The Situationist International was ineffective[3]. Since then, Asger Jorn focused on his own creativity, leaving collaborations and organization behind him. Ultimately, he would continue to make artworks to the day of his death in 1973. It is estimated that he produced over 2,500 paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculptures, artist’s books, collages and décollages during his long career[4].

Besides his impressive semi-figurative representations, Asger Jorn also made great contributions to art history via his roles within COBRA and Situationist International groups

Since 1945, Kunst Aarhus Internationale institute was the best comparative English museum in Paris
Asger Jorn – Untitled, 1961 – Image via

The Significance of Asger Jorn to Danish Art History

Between his memberships within social avant-garde revolutionary movements and his ground-breaking painting practice, there is really no discussing Danish modern art history without at least mentioning the name of Asger Jorn. Naturally, his native country noticed his contributions to its art scene – as a way of honoring one of its greatest modern painters, The Silkeborg Museum of Art was renamed the Museum Jorn in the year of 2010. A small recognition when compared with the level of greatness surrounding Jorn’s reputation but a noteworthy nonetheless.


  1. SMK, Asger Jorn: Restless Rebel, Prestel, 2014
  2. Baumeister, R., Asger Jorn in Images, Words and Forms, Scheidegger and Spiess, 2014
  3. Baumeister,R., Asger Jorn’s Writings on Arts and Architecture, 1938-1958: Fraternit Avant Tout, nai010 publishers, 2013
  4. Kurczynski, K., The Arts and Politics of Asger Jorn: The Avant-Garde Won’t Give Up, Routledge; New edition, 2014

Featured image: Asger Jorn – Photo of the author – Image via
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Wir sind was wir sammeln (We Are What We Collect)Museum Lothar Fischer, Neumarkt Group
2017From Abildgaard to KirkebyARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus Group
2017OPSLAG NEDSLAGThe National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen Group
2017Opslag NedslagThe Royal Library, Copenhagen Group
2017Geknetetes WissenDie Sprache der Keramik, Kunsthaus Graz, Graz Group
2017Rendezvous: Meisterwerke Aus Der Sammlung EsslEssl Museum, Kunst der Gegenwart, Klosterneuburg Group
2016Human Animals: The Art of Cobra and Its LegacyUniversity Museum of Contemporary Art, Amherst, MA Group
2016Asger Jorn: The Open HideFriedrich Petzel Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2016Basquiat, Dubuffet, Soulages ... A Private CollectionFondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne Group
2016Creativity Exercises Spaces Of Emancipatory PedagogiesMuseum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Warsaw Group
2016Die Sammlung Im SommerKunsthalle in Emden, Emden Group
2016Painting 2.0Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (MUMOK), Vienna Group
2016Formlos. Kunst nach 1945Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe Group
2016Helhesten and the Danish Avant-garde during World War IICarl-Henning Pedersen og Else Alfelts Museum, Herning Group
2016L’image voléeFondazione Prada, Milan Group
2016CERAMIX. Art et Céramique de Rodin à SchütteLa Maison Rouge, Paris Group
2016IlluminationLouisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk Group
2016Question de peintureJeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery, Paris Group
2015Intimate and Monumental: The Jan Groth and Steingrim Laursen CollectionRogaland Kunstmuseum, Stavanger Group
2015Impressions. Five Centuries of WoodcutsThe National Gallery Oslo, Oslo Group
2015Geh und spiel mit dem Riesen!Museum Villa Stuck, Munich Group
2015Miró & CoBrACobra Museum, Amstelveen Group
2015After Picasso: 80 Contemporary ArtistsThe Ohio State University, Columbus, OH Group
2015Love Affair With Graphics. From Albers To VostellNational Museum in Cracow, Krakow Group
2015Neue Figurationen Aus Der Werkstatt Der MalereiGalerie Van de Loo Projekte, Munich Group
2015Picasso In Der Kunst Der GegenwartDeichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg Group
2015Picasso in Contemporary ArtDeichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg Group
201515 Great Artists From The CollectionHenie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden Group
2014Asger Jorn: Ganz schön Gerissen!Collagen und Décollagen, Kunsthalle in Emden, Emden Solo
2014Tillykke Med Fødselsdagen, Asger Jorn!: Teil 1Galerie Van de Loo Projekte, Munich Solo
2014Asger Jorn: Restless RebelStatens museum for kunst, Copenhagen Solo
2014Dialogue VIJeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery, Paris Group
201431ª São Paulo BiennialBienal de Sao Paulo, São Paulo Group
2014A Singular FormWiener Secession, Vienna Group
2014CrossingsInternational Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC), Ljubljana Group
2014Gespinste Labyrinthe OrnamenteGalerie Van de Loo Projekte, Munich Group
2014Poor Working ConditionsMartos Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2014DrømmelandKUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg Group
2013Asger JornDie Galerie, FrankfurtSolo
2013Asger Jorn en Chile: Un desafío a la luzMuseo Nacional de Bellas Artes Santiago Chile, Santiago Solo
2013Billeder Af BillederGalleri Tom Christoffersen, Copenhagen Group
2013Matter and MemoryJeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery, Paris Group
2013Hackordnung # 5 FormfreiheitWilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen Group
20131813. Asedio, incendio y reconstrucción de San SebastiánMuseo San Telmo, San SebastiánGroup
2013Director´s Choice 7-9-13ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus Group
2013Appassionata. Die Sammlung Selinka Im DialogKunstmuseum Ravensburg, Ravensburg Group
2012Asger JornFondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne Solo
2012Påskeudstilling (Easter Exhibition)Galerie Moderne, Silkeborg Solo
2012CoBrALEVY Galerie, Hamburg Group
2012Art of Another Kind: International Abstraction and the Guggenheim, 1949–1960Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, NY Group
2012From Floor to CeilingGalleri Profilen, Aarhus Group
2012I'm Like a BirdJohannes Larsen Museet, Kerteminde Group
2012Circus WolsWeserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen Group
2011Asger JornMuseum Jorn (former Silkeborg Art Museum), Silkeborg Solo
2011Jorn & CobraGalleri Profilen, Aarhus Solo
2011Klee & CobraLouisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk Group
2011SculpturesGalerie Loevenbruck, Paris Group
2011Leningrader Hängung Nr. 102Produzentengalerie Hamburg, Hamburg Group
2011Zettels TraumVon der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal Group
2011Künstler der GalerieGalerie Gabriele von Loeper, Hamburg Group
2011NytårskurGalleri Jarsbo, Aarhus Group
2010Asger JornAltes Rathaus, Bayreuth Solo
2010Höllenpferd, Schattenwesen und Blaue SeelenStädtische Galerie Bietigheim-Bissingen, Bietigheim-Bissingen Solo
2010Ein kultureller Putsch während ihr schlaft!Galerie Van de Loo Projekte, Munich Group
2010CoBrA & CoSihtasutus Tallinna Kunstihoone Fond, Tallinn Group
2010The Good, The Bad & the UglyCultuurcentrum Mechelen, Mechelen Group
2010CoBrA & CoArsenāls, Riga Group
2010Accrochage des artistes de la galerieGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Group
2010Cobra, Selection D'oeuvresArt Collection S.à r.l, Luxembourg Group
2010Accrochage des artistes de la galerieGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Group
2010So Be It: Interventions in Printed MatterAndrew Roth Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2010Contemporary ArtGalleri Jarsbo, Aarhus Group
2009Für Doris Schmidt: Grafik von Asger JornFlorian Sundheimer Galerie, Munich Solo
2009Visa Viking: Asger Jorn: Das druckgraphische WerkGalerie Van de Loo Projekte, Munich Solo
2009Asger JornMusée National d´Art Moderne, Paris Solo
2008Holzschnitte, Radierungen, LithographienGalerie Christian Pixis, Munich Solo
2008ASGER JORNGalerie Birch, Copenhagen Solo
2007Asger JornCarl-Henning Pedersen og Else Alfelts Museum, Herning Solo
2007Asger JornKunsthalle in Emden, Emden Solo
2007Asger JornMuseum Villa Stuck, Munich Solo
2006Asger JornGalerie Birch, Copenhagen Solo
2006Asger JornBawag Foundation, Vienna Solo
2005From the Golden Ages till Cobra: Danish Art for 150 YearsNordnorsk Kunstmuseum, Tromsø Solo
2005Asger Jorn: Cobra from the CollectionHenie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden Solo
2004Asger JornHolbeinhaus, Augsburg Solo
2003Asger Jorn: RetrospektiveKunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel Solo
2002Asger JornARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Ishoj Solo
2002Asger JornGalleri Faurschou, Copenhagen, Copenhagen Solo
2002Asger JornFundación Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona Solo
2000Asger JornStedelijk Museum CS, Amsterdam Solo
1994Asger JornStedelijk Museum CS, Amsterdam Solo
1993Asger Jorn, "Paintings: 1940-1972,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1991Asger JornGalleri Susanne Ottesen, CopenhagenSolo
1987Asger JornGalerie Gabriele von Loeper, Hamburg Solo
1981Asger JornLe Musée d'un Peintre, Kunsthalle Bern, Bern Solo
1977Asger Jorn: the crucial years 1954-64Gruenebaum Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1976Asger Jorn grafikStatens museum for kunst, Copenhagen Solo
1974Asger Jorn: paintings 1942-1968Gruenebaum Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
1973Asger JornNeue Nationalgalerie, Berlin Solo
1972JornGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Solo
1970JornGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Solo
1969JornGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Solo
1967JornGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Solo
1965Asger Jorn: malerier, akvareller, collager, grafikkKunstnernes Hus, Oslo Solo
1965Asger Jorn: malerier, akvareller, collager, grafikkTrondhjems Kunstforening, Trondheim Solo
1965Asger Jorn: malerier, akvareller, collager, grafikkBergen Kunsthall, Bergen Solo
1964Asger JornStedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam Solo
1964Asger Jorn: Restless RebelFrankfurter Kunstverein, FrankfurtSolo
1962Asger JornGalleria del Cavallino, Venice Solo
1958Asger JornGalerie Schmela, Dusseldorf Solo
1958Asger Jorn: Paintings 1938-1958Institute of Contemporary Arts, London Solo
1957Asger JornGalleria del Cavallino, Venice Solo
1957Asger Jorn: Lithographs and EtchingsInstitute of Contemporary Arts, London Solo
1955Asger JornGalleria del Naviglio, Milan Solo