A Viking in Paris
He went to Paris in 1947. He looked like a sailor, or perhaps a peasant-athlete. He was a sailor... A sculptor. With the imposing silhouette of a Viking. Thirty-five years old. He had left Copenhagen with his friend Mortensen. There, some-where in the North - where he worked, self-taught, on wood sculptures, and where he studied with a stone carver - he heard of the Denise René Gallery in Paris. Without hesitation, he went there. Hardly arrived, with Mortensen, Jacobsen went to meet the petit brown-haired lady.
Solid, slender, she ran her gallery, opened two years before with and exhibtion of Vasarely, like a ship. She exhibited sculptures and paintings.
Jacobsen's work at the time had the form of fragments of the earth and space surrounding them. Indissociable from natural elements, his granite, wooden, or limestone sculptures sureged froth from the depths of time. From the bottom of the sea.
The Viking examined volcanic rock, warped beams. His effigies, his totems standing against the sky, are timeless. His volumes lean over, lie down, as if to better support the earth's weight.
In 1944, he called one of his monuments "Fabeldyr", the chimera, the cunning devil of old fabels... This ressembled the echo of a far-away image, buried in collective memory. Some unfinished ardent shock. Something equivocal, the unexplainable outline of something - a lemur - from a distant and unknown region.
Jacobsen's anonymous and unpredictable muses. Pure like large stones caressed, carved, mutilated, hollowed out by the patient, slow works of winds, centuries, water...Episodes of the siol and mineral testaments, The suppleness of torsos linkes with placidness. Weight with lassitude... No volume seems to want to lose its complicity with the elements.Jacobsen uses nature. He diverts it. Never does he try to imitate it, to copy it. He participates in its breathing. His sphinx tied to the landscape is the landscape. The bodies return to silt, to humus..
He arrived in Paris. Met Denise René. The painters of the gallery: Herbin, Poliakoff, Dewasne, Deyrolle, Vasarely... A change occured. The concavity or the roundness of stone, its grain, its radiant fullness, was replaced by the shininess of metal. Soldering, assembling, construction, replaced carving.
The contours kept their original simplicity. But imperative metal strips, imponderable edges, catastrophic minescule exigencies, curves, pure angles, cut space. Their magnificantly improbable equilibrium still vibrate with the seism of the night of the world.
Vibrations where the socle is absent or completely integrated, iron calligraphy, hyphen between the mind og matter and the world of the spirit, these little mechanisms, often rather wimilar to -but before - minimalist volumes. Denise René soon presented them to the public in a group exhibition... The Viking exhibited next to Arp, Kandinsky, Léger, Gonzalez, Poliakoff.
The Viking and the Lady
Q - Denise René, you met Jacobsen in 1947... He still exhibits in your gallery... Forty years of fidelity, of understanding. What is the secret?
A - Forty years... but with a strong rupture in the 1050's... which lasted ten years.
Q - Why?
A - It's a long story. I'll get back to it later. When Mortensen and Jacobsen arrived in my gallery we immediately hit it off.
Q - How did Jacobsen charm you?
A - His infinite curiosity. Enthusiasm. His Ability to integrate himself into a group. Hardly arrived in Paris, this stone sculptor was attracted to the original forms he discovered. he understood what he could get out of metal, a flexible, docile element. At the same time, he brought something savage, spare, which enriched the group in the gallery. He moved with Mortensen to the house for Danish artists in Suresnes. He bought scrap metal by the bundle. Recuperated scraps he found in vacant lots or in secondhand shops. Then he began to work seriously. When he showed me this sculptures I thought that they were in the spirit of what I exhibited in the gallery: simple, pure volumes with geometric characteristics, optical dynamism... In fact, as of 1945 I wanted to move away from the movements of the day: the Paris School. Louis Carré exhibited Estéve, Bazaine, Lapicque, Gromaire, Dufy... At the Galerie de France (then directed by M. Martin), there were Manessier, Pignon, Singier, Tal Coat, Gischia... These artist drank from Fauve sources. What interested me, and has always interested me, is what comes from Constructivism, from Stijl, and from the Bauhaus... My artist are the spirital descendants of these movements. The inauguration of the gallery with an exhibition of Vasarely set the example. His experiments at the time borrowed from those of the Bauhaus. In 1946 I exhibited Herbin. In 1948 Arp and Sophie Taeber-Arp.
A- Jacobsen threw himself into a baroque productin called the "Dolls". Personages with folkloric or image-provoking names: "Troubadour", "Confucious", "Unstable Man"... No doubt he wanted to prove himself that he could do everything. I don't blame him. But these humorous silhouettes had nothing to do with the art I was defending. I wasn't surprised, because I knew his hobby, but up untill then Jacobsen had always seemed to agree with Dewasne's discourses and Dewasne, this implacable logician, ceaselessly denounced with vehemence the romanticism and the anecdote in art. Supported by Jacobsen, he sought to quarrel, and with sectarianism, with Magnelli, Poliakoff, Hartung and others...Jacobsen supported him... And all of a sudden this prodigious technician of metal - his soldering was much admired by professional artisans - put his knowledge to the service of the anecdotal. I told him: "I will not participate in the bad move of encouraging the ruin of what I admire in Jacobsen's work: "purity and rigor". In 1956 the rupture was complete, he went to the Galerie de France.
Q - And when did he return to the "fold"?
A - In 1966... We saw each other at the Venice Biennial. He had just won the prize for sculpture. We said hello to each other, as if we had seen each other the day before... as if ten years gone by hadn't existed... At the time, many of his works were rigorous, abstract, with curves, angles, and circles, once again. But also jagged patches, covered in places with little layers of rust, traces of oxidation. That work seemd to me to still be a little baroque... But I found again the artist I had so much appreciated.
After a suite, realized in the 1980's, of Hommages to Achipenko, Léger, Magnelli, Vasarely...
Jacobsen today creates iron architectures painted black. Simple forms with small dimensions, they sing like notes of a visual music.
Tempted by spareness, direct contours, the artist has eliminated the slightest organic or naturalistic race. A system of oblique levers, parallel bundles, diagonals, rectangles or perforated triangles, weave the net that catches space. It becomes essential material.
Indeed, these mathematical labyrinths make emptiness radiate. The lines unite their connivance to affirm the durability of the air circulating about and within. They render present and eternal movement: push which lasts, comes aprt, surges forth again between trajectories. Surgings, energies contradict, shoulder each other, build up. Confront the artist with the profound and secret breathing of the unlimited. The dark color adds an incontestable grandeur to the whole.
Born June 4th in Copenhagen
Creates his first wooden sculptures
Visits a new avant-garde exhibition (Klee, Kokoschka, Kadinsky, Nolde, Kirchner and others) which makes a major impression on him.
Exhibits at the Autumn Art Exhibition and Pustervig Gallery in Copenhagen. Works and exhibits during the period alongside Richard Mortensen and the Danish members of what was to become the Cobra group; Asger Jorn, Henry Heerup, Carl-Henning Pedersen and Egill Jacobsen.
Exhibits with Richard Mortensen at Galerie Tokanten, Copenhagen.
Moves activities to France to "La Maison des Artistes Danois" in Suresnes where he strikes up contacts with artist of the Galerie Denise René. Arp, Deyrolle, Dewasne, Herbin, Magnelli, Mortensen, Poliakoff and Vasarely.
Takes part in group exhibition at the Galerie Denise Rene and at the Galerie Beaune, Paris.
Exhibition at Galerie Linien and The Artists' Association, Copenhagen, at the Salon de Mai, Paris and at the Salon de la Jeune Sculpture, Paris. Moves from stone to iron.
Exhibitions wth Serge Poliakoff at Kunshalle, Bern; with Léger, Matisse, Picasso, Miro, Laurens, Magnelli and Hartung at Musee de l'Art Wallon, Liége: and at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg.
Exhibition at the Musee de la Chaux-Fonds, Galerie l'Ancien Montreux and at Louisiana Museum in Humlebœk, Denmark. Took part in Documenta II in Kassel.
Individual Exhibition at Moderna Museet, Stockholm and at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Participant in "100 sculptures from Daumier to modern times" at the Musee d'Art, Saint-Etienne.
Individual Exhibition at SDS-Hallen, Malmo. Kunstnernes Kunsthandel, Copenhagen, Gummesons Art Gallery, Stockholm.
Exhibition with Vasarely at Artex, Helsinki, Samleren, Stockholm, the Pavillon de Marsan, Paris and the Galerie Denise René. Mogens Kruse makes a documentary called "Realitet A" on Robert Jacobsen's sculptures.
Separate Exhibition at Galerie Birch, Copenhagen; Exhibitor at "Forme et couleurs murales" At Galerie Denise René (Dewasne, Vasarely, Jacobsen) and at "Klar form" in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki og Liége.
Wins the newspaper Politiken's major cultural prize. Receives the Kai Nielsen Award. Exhibitions; Galerie Denise René, Salon du Genie, Galerie la Hune, Salon de la Jeune Schulpture, Salon des Realites Nouvelles, Paris
Galerie Denise René, Salon de La Jeune Sculpture, Paris,Völkerkunde--museum, Hamburg, Salon des Realites Nouvelles, Paris.
Individual Exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, A.P.I.A.W., in Liége, Salon des Realites Nouvelles, Paris, Eisenplastisk at the Kunsthalle, Bern.
Individual Exhibition at Stedelijk-Museum, Amsterdam; Galerie Dujardin, Roubaix and Galerie Evrard, Lille. Takes part in Arte Nordica Contemporanea, Rome; Evolution at the Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris; "Art Abstrait" at the Museo de Arte de Cube; Sources de L'Art Moderne" at Stedelijk-Museum, Amsterdam; Franckreiche Galerie, Nürnberg.
Settles in Courtry. Exhibits at "L'Exposition Internationale de Sculpture Contemporaine" at the Musee Rodin in Paris and at Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm.
Galerie de France, Paris. Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rouen. "Exposition d'architecture", Berlin. Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nantes.
Appointed professor at the Kunstakademie der Bildenden Kunste in Munich. Exhibits at the Koots Gallery, New York and other American Galleries.
Exhibits at the Galerie d'Eendt, Amsterdam; Galerie de France, Paris; Galeria de la Boussola, Turin; Galerie Hybler, Copenhagen/Stockholm. Participant in "Masters of Modern Sculpture" at the Seibu Gallery in Japan.
Appointed Knight of the Grand Order of Dannebrog. Participant in "La Figure depuis Picasso" in Ghent; at Grands et Jeunes d'Aujourd'hui" at Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; "Danish Abstract Art" in Dallas, Texas; Museum of Fine Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg; Kunstpavillonen, Esbjerg.
Exhibitions at the Palazzo Reale in Milan with Egill Jacobsen and Arne and Jørgen Haugen Sørensen; at Iceland's National gallery, Reykjavik; Kunstpavillionen, Esbjerg. Galerie Asbæk, Copenhagen. Creates a group for the Danish Broadcasting Corporaion headquarters in Gladsaxe.
Århus Art Museum and Haderslev Museum.
Travelling exhibition in the United States. Galerie Edeling, Copenhagen.1980
Appointed Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in France. Exhibitions at the National Gallery in Reykjavik, North Jutland Arft Museum in Ålborg, Galerie Edeling, Copenhagen. Creates a major for Roskilde County Council.
Honory Member of the Kunstakademie der Bildenden Künsten in Munich. Exhibition at "Paris-Paris' at the Pompidou Centre. Takes part in F.I.A.C., Paris with Galerie Jacob Feldballe, Kolding.
Commander of the Grand Order of Dannebrog. Exhibition at Galerie Edeling. Participant at F.I.A.C., Paris with Galerie Birch.
Retrospective exhibition at the Musée d'Art in Toulon and at the Musée des Beaux-Art Rennes. Takes part in F.I.A.C. in Paris with Galerie Birch. Exhibition at Galerie Edeling, Copenhagen.
Retrospective exhibition at Musée Rodin, Paris. Individual exhibition at the Galerie Denise René, Paris; Galerie Ostler, Munich.
"Qu'est que la sculpture moderne?" at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
Republique Francaise, Ordre des Arts et des Lettre. Exhibitions at Rosenborg
Chinese Themes at the Cartier Founation of Contemporary Art at Jouy-en-Josas and at Cartier, New York. Exhibitions at the Stock Exchange, Charlottenborg and at Galerie Edeling in Copenhagen. Art Cologne, Galerie Edeling. Produces a sculpture for the Olympic Games in Seoul.
Art Cologne with Galerie Edeling. Individual exhibitions - Galerie Edeling, Copenhagen; Galerie Knud Grothe, Charlottenlund. Represents France at the Puskin Museum in Moscow.
Tokyo Art Expo with the Galerie Edeling.