New Arne Jacobsen exhibition reveals unknown sides of design legacy

Aj tegning
May 1, 2020

Dissing+Weitling is part of the new exhibition at Trapholt as the legal ‘inheritor’ of Arne Jacobsen’s architecture and we have met the curator, Katrine Stenum.

  • When the Trapholt museum for modern art and design opens its doors for the hitherto largest exhibition on the architect Arne Jacobsen next September, new insights await into his relationship with the world of art as well as insights into how posterity has treated his legacy.

    D+W: - We’ve seen many Arne Jacobsen exhibitions over time, both in Denmark and abroad. What makes Trapholt’s exhibition different?

    KS: - Firstly, it’s our focus on design. Furthermore, we’re showing how he works, his creative process, in relation to the world of art, his place in the contemporary situation and the development of the Danish welfare state. The exhibition at Trapholt is the largest and most comprehensive Arne Jacobsen exhibition in modern times, and it distinguishes itself by displaying some less well-known objects and projects that extend far beyond the Egg, the Swan and the Ant chairs.

    D+W: - The exhibition will also illustrate how Arne Jacobsen’s design and architecture have been treated after his death. Why is it important?

    KS: - The exhibition covers the period from Arne Jacobsen’s birth in 1902 right up to today. It’s fascinating to investigate and understand what happens in the period after his death. The narrative of Danish Modern still thrives today of course, and furniture and industrial design from the period are still in demand. Why? Denmark as a design nation was largely shaped by the time in which Arne Jacobsen was at his peak, and today we appreciate the aesthetics that he and several others developed during the period. Moreover, design from the mid-twentieth century is currently undergoing something of a Renaissance, and many manufacturers have seen huge interest in the objects in recent years. We think this is interesting.

  • Myren 3
    The Trapholt exhibition distinguishes itself by displaying some less well-known objects and projects that extend far beyond the Egg, the Swan and the Ant chairs.
  • - One section of the exhibition is called ‘The Legacy after Arne Jacobsen’, and here we present interpretations, marketing and initiatives in the period from 1971-2020, showing how the Arne Jacobsen narrative has been kept alive, and how it has developed over time. His firm continues, although under a new name - Dissing+Weitling - and this has helped secure Arne Jacobsen’s architectural legacy: both in the completion of specific projects, but also in the work culture that continues at the firm today. Thanks to passionate enthusiasts such as Hans Dissing and Otto Weitling, we have been able to maintain this important part of Danish cultural heritage.

  • Dissing+Weitling, Danmarks Nationalbank, hall
    Dissing+Weitling completed several projects started by Arne Jacobsen, amongst them Danmarks Nationalbank.
  • D+W: - Arne Jacobsen’s relationship to art and his own artistic streak will also be in focus. Can you can reveal any new aspects the exhibition will bring in this context?

    KS: - Arne Jacobsen had a very close relationship with the world of art. He was a collector and he liked to draw and paint. In the 1950s, he was involved in a group of artists in France led by Fernand Leger and Andre Bloc, who gathered architects and artists around a common goal to achieve symbiosis between different types of art. It was believed that an important element in rebuilding the new Post-War European society was to consider greater cohesion between architecture and art. Arne Jacobsen embraced this ideology when he signed the group's manifest.

    - When we look at his work up to the French project, and even after, we can clearly see that he’s working actively with art in his architecture. Sometimes he himself is the artist in his projects, and at other times he is the curator - for example Preben Hornung’s large wall painting in Rødovre Town Hall. It’s also extremely interesting to see his own creative process; he is enormously artistic when developing new products or thinking about architecture.

  • Arne Jacobsen fotograferer sin egen have Topfoto Ritzau Scanpix
    Arne Jacobsen was fascinated by the world around him, and he never shirked from taking inspiration from outside the areas one would normally expect of an architect.
  • D+W: - Does the exhibition also thematise the concept of ‘Danish Modern’ and the Danish design canon?

    KS: - Yes, we’ve called the exhibition ‘Arne Jacobsen Designs Denmark’. Arne Jacobsen is one of the architects who helped give the new welfare society an aesthetic shape. During his career, he set his mark on the Danish public space with town halls, schools, a library and company head offices: and he not only drew the outline, but he also designed them down to smallest detail. In institutions such as Munkegårdsskolen (a school) in Vangede (1955) and Rødovre Town Hall (1956) Danish citizens meet Arne Jacobsen’s aesthetics in their purest form, through large comprehensive designs, where every detail is shaped, coloured or selected by the architect himself.

  • Rodovre Raadhus
    Dissing+Weitling’s contribution to modern town-hall history can trace its roots back to its predecessor Arne Jacobsen and his firm, who among other things were behind the iconic Rødovre Town Hall.
  • - Posterity’s narrative about Danish design, or ‘Danish Modern’, is based largely on dreams of the good life. Manufacturers’ marketing emphasised the functionality of furniture, the good craftsmanship and durability. They also refer to the Scandinavian way of life, and on several occasions the furniture is described as ‘democratic'. This renders the furniture a significance very close to the time and the new society it was originally a part of. ‘

    'Arne Jacobsen Designs Denmark’ opens at Trapholt on 20 September 2020. The 900 m2 exhibition has been organised chronologically under six headings covering the period from 1902-2020. The exhibition presents a wide range of architecture models, furniture, lamps, industrial design, watercolours, textiles, photos and film footage.