Le monde perdu

  • 1960
  • Asger Jorn
  • oil on canvas
  • 117,6 x 90,5 x 3,6 cm (incl. lijst)
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1960
  • Inventory number 177

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In 'Le monde perdu' Asger Jorn places colourful lines and marks next to each other in such a way that they create a few large shapes. A rounded, almost triangular shape in the top part of the painting leans on an elongated shape which goes from the edge of the canvas diagonally to the top of the painting. The shapes evoke associations with living creatures, although these cannot be clearly defined. The dark blue and green in the right corner of the shape at the top continues down and comes back along the left edge of the painting, curving on to the top edge, and the large shapes are surrounded by bright yellow brushstrokes. Within the outlines, Jorn used strongly contrasting colours such as blue and orange, green and red, alternating with light shades, next to each other. The whole work is dominated by rotating and flowing movements.

At the end of the 1930s there was a group of artists in Denmark who were strongly inspired by Scandinavian mythology, in which nature with its mysterious forces is populated by creatures such as gods, trolls and dwarves. These artists also felt an affinity with their prehistoric past as well as with the surviving folklore. In 1941 they founded the journal entitled “Helhesten”, in which they promoted a direct method of expression through a spontaneous style of painting. The way in which these artists filled their canvases entirely with colour, devoting just as much attention to the figures as the background, expressed their sense of creatures and nature as being inextricably linked. Jorn, who was the only member of this group to feel the need for an international profile, adopted the Helhesten ideas when he became one of the co-founders of Cobra in Paris in 1948.

The view that an artwork should be a direct expression of feelings and desires was also very influential in the Cobra movement, which included Dutch and Belgian artists as well as Danes. In addition to being inspired by mythology and folk art, the members of Cobra also sought inspiration in children’s drawings, the paintings produced by the mentally ill, and non-western art. Following the dissolution of Cobra in 1951, Jorn remained active as a thinker and as an inspiration for various international groups of artists, including the International Situationists. The relationship between art and society, the notion of art as a means of expression of what is important in a nation always had a central place for Jorn. In 'Le monde perdu' he evoked a menacing atmosphere with the distorted creatures which emerge from the flowing lines and glowing colours. The title confirms this sense of doom.

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