Asger Jorn

Untitled

1956–57

From about 1948 Asger Jorn filled his canvases with swarming faces and figures, vaporous equivalents of the eccentric visages in crowd scenes by the Belgian artist James Ensor. Their scrawled, half-innocent, half-demonic features also have antecedents in the creatures of Jean Dubuffet and Paul Klee. These presences hovering on the surface of the canvas are integrated with their surroundings, scarcely distinguishable as representational forms. In the present canvas blobs of paint and linear contours coalesce into a standing, grinning human figure at the right and a bird in the center; a multitude of faces, less acutely defined, emerge, vanish, and reappear in the seething environment. The sense of fantasy here is complemented by the candied color applied in thicknesses ranging from thin veneer to heavy ridges. Line incises its way through the fluffy space of this layered pigment to determine boundaries and suggest form. The accidental revelation of form and the importance of chance in Jorn’s work suggest Surrealist concerns.

Artist Asger Jorn
Date 1956–57
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 141 x 110. 1 cm
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 175
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Painting

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