Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Asger Jorn (1914-1973)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Asger Jorn (1914-1973)

Untitled (Didaska)

Asger Jorn (1914-1973)
Untitled (Didaska)
signed and dated 'asger j 44' (upper left)
oil on canvas
65 x 69 cm.
Painted in 1944
Collection Mrs Elna Fonnesbech Sandberg, Copenhagen.
Collection V. Balslev, Copenhagen.
Anonymous sale, Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers Copenhagen, 3 March 2008, as: Didaska.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
G. Atkins, Jorn in Scandinavia 1930-1953, London 1968, no. 355 (illustrated, p. 356).
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Brought to you by

Lisa Snijders
Lisa Snijders

Lot Essay

This present untitled lot by Asger Jorn is a so-called Didaska painting belonging to the Didaska series Jorn made in the early forties of the 20th century. From that time, the artist began to group his works together under a common theme or idea and name them accordingly; such as Didaska, Le droite de l'aigle or Aganak. The present work belongs to a series executed between 1944 and 1946 and is the first series that he consciously grouped together. The work was formerly in the collection of Elna Fonnesbech-Sandberg, the great patron of the artist, whom he painted on a number of occasions. Jorn and she met in 1940. By that time Elna had already acquired an important collection of classical Modernist art with works by Harald Giersing, Vilhem Lundstrom and Olaf Rude. Unfortunately she was compelled to sell her collection when World War II broke out. That's when Jorn showed up and persuaded her to start building a new art collection that focused mainly on CoBrA art. Quickly she had built a vast collection of the newest Danish art with art works by Henry Heerup, Carl-Henning Pedersen, Egill Jacobsen and of course Asger Jorn himself.
The couple became very close and established an intimate relationship. In the summer of 1944 Jorn and his son spent the summer at Elna's summer house in Tibirke, where Jorn would paint a number of works belonging to the Didaska series. The most typical Didaska paintings are two-figure compositions and the present work is no exception. Two disproportionately large figures stand in close proximity to each other. This is common in the Didaska paintings and drawings where two birdlike figures are sometimes woven into a single pattern. The intimate nature of the composition, coupled with the fact that both figures occupy all of the pictoral space, thrust right to the front of the picture plane; squeezed to the edges of the canvas, confronting the viewer, instilling the work with the gaiety and energy of the carnival. One is presented with a noisy, joyous scene, and these figures - be they gnomes, beasts or humans in the several works - can be seen, in the context of Jorn's oeuvre, as part of some kind of Didaska anthology. Furthermore, Lawrence Alloway famously declared that the CoBrA movement was built on the iconography of '...the one, couple and the many,' and this early work by Jorn seems to begin this development of a common inventory of forms. (See Alloway's introduction in, New York, The Fourth Guggenheim International Award, 1964, p.22).
Considering the relationship between Elna and Jorn works from this period have been interpreted as a representation of the intense erotic attraction between the couple. The warm, delicate works are often small and rendered with a light orange, which happens to be the distinct hair colour of Elna. Furthermore the name Didaska is composed from Elna's nickname 'Dida' and 'Aska', the nickname that Jorn often signed his works with.
Subject aside, this seminal work is a joyous celebration of form and colour that prefigures Jorn's great achievements when associated with the CoBrA movement three years later. Combining bold colour and lines, the artist's energetic brushwork suggests the intensity of his feelings and the liberation of his thoughts onto canvas. A more suggestive than descriptive work, Untitled, is a celebration of form, colour and movement that entices and invigorates the viewer.

Asger Jorn in front of Elna Fonnesbech-Sandberg's summer house in 1944 (L. Morell, 'Arkitekturens arabesk', in: Louisiana Revy, no. 2, 1995, p. 58).

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art

View All
View All