Lot 5
  • 5

Asger Jorn

70,000 - 100,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Asger Jorn
  • Hommage à Baudelaire
  • signed and dated '42; signed, inscribed Hvor Høstaftenerne er
    gennemtrœngende -Aa gennemtrœngende, lige til aet smertelige, ti der, gives dejlige følelser, hvis vaghed ikke, udelukker intensiteten, Ingen pile er skarpere, end uendelighedens. Baudelaire
    and dated 1942 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 82 by 96,5 cm.


Max and Inger Worzner, Vejle, Denmark
Poul Borchsenius, Randers, Denmark
John Craven, Paris
Galerie Krugier, Geneva
Grünebaum Gallery, New York
Sale Christie's New York, 18 November 1981, lot 10
Stéphane Janssen, Brussels
Sale Christie's London, 30 April 1999, lot 21
Sale Christie's Amsterdam, 28 May 2002, lot 256
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Aarhus, Denmark, Universitet, Asger Jorn - Robert Jacobsen, April 1961, no. 20
Copenhagen, Kunstnernes Kunsthandel, CoBrA, September - October 1961, p. 11, no. 78, illustrated
Paris, Galerie de Seine, Exposition de Groupe, January 1962, illustrated on the catalogue cover
Basel, Kunsthalle, Asger Jorn - Eugène Dodeigne, October - November 1964, no. 11
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum / Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum, Jorn, December 1964 - January 1965 / February 1965, no. 11
New York, Grünebaum Gallery, Asger Jorn: Paintings 1942 - 1968, October - November 1974, illustrated


G. Atkins, Jorn in Scandinavia 1930 - 1953, New York 1968, p. 346, no. 264, illustrated


There are a few retouches in a horizontal line approximately 20 cm. above the lower edge. All retouches are professionally done.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The outbreak of the Second World War severed all connections with other countries. With a group of contemporaries, including the painters Egill Jacobsen, Ejler Bille, Carl-Henning Pedersen, Jorn made plans for a journal as a forum of artistic ideas. It was named Hellhesten (Horse of Hell), an animal spelling death, a title preferred to more belligerent or neutral names. In 1941 he published the article Banalities in Hellhesten, which could be regarded as his first art-theoretical manifesto.  The years of occupation were extremely fertile for Danish contemporary music, poetry and art, and in Hellhesten reflections of these fields could be found.

Whilst taking Rimbaud and Baudelaire as his point of departure, Jorn formulated a program for his subsequent artistic activities: "The artist's interest cannot be restricted to a single field; he must seek the highest perception of everything, of the whole and its details. Nothing can be sacred to him, because everything has become important to him" (Banalities, pp. 76-77).  Rimbaud wrote: "I loved the idiotic images, fanlights, stage scenery, booth curtains, signs, cheap broadsheets, old-fashioned literature, medieval Latin, the erotic books filled with spelling mistakes, the novels of our forefathers, fairytales, children's books, old operas, empty refrains, simple rhytm" (Arthur Rimbaud, A season in Hell, quoted in Troels Andersen: Asger Jorn. En biografi. Arene 1914-53 (Borgen, 1994), p. 87. And Jorn concludes: "There can be no question of selecting  in any direction, but of a penetrating the whole cosmic law of rhythms, forces and material that are the real world, from the ugliest to the most beautiful; everything that has a character and expression, from the crudest and most brutal to the gentlest and most delicate; everything that speaks to us in its capacity of life "(Banalities, p. 77).

Already at an early stage, Asger Jorn perceived a self-contained language and means of cognition. He saw Jung's archetypes manifest themselves as images- as did the Surrealists. Jorn's work ranged from single figures to multi-faceted landscapes peopled with animalistic shapes and a colour scheme indebted to early Danish expressionism.

He deliberately tried to unite the inspiration from modern art in Europe with the Danish tradition, underlining that there was not one, but several intersecting lines in recent Danish art. This also to some extent could be said about Hommage a Baudelaire and other works from this period. The imagery of surrealist painting, i.e. the birds of Max Ernst, the mask paintings by Egill Jacobsen in the mid 1930s, Carl-Henning Pedersen's cosmic imagery and Ejler Bille's meticulous work with its multitude of independent forms merged in Jorn's work at its best in poetic-erotic language.

In Hommage à Baudelaire the solemn and poetic associations originate from their natural Danish setting. Jorn acknowledged being indebted to literature. He had an urgent need of the mythical, so typical for the Scandinavian culture.  This work shows a spontaneity and expressive power, characteristic for an important period in the development of Jorn's artistic career.