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robert jacobsen (1912 - 1993)

– To revolutionize the perception of form, colour, space, line and surface

Lots to be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 8 – 10 November 2023

Born in Copenhagen 1912, Robert Jacobsen is known as one of the foremost Danish artists. He has received a worldwide reputation for his monumental sculptures and is represented at numerous international museums of modern art, such as Centre Pompidou and Musée Rodin in Paris, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, USA. The present sale offers two striking iron sculptures by Jacobsen from an important private Swedish collection. 

Robert Jacobsen did not receive any formal education, instead he taught himself how to paint and sculpt. During World War I he worked together with artists that would later become associated with the famous COBRA group, such as Asger Jorn, Carl-Henning Pedersen and Egill Jacobsen. The COBRA group was short-lived but influenced many coming generations of artists. Through art, the group sought to spark the rebirth of the human spirit and a primitive sense of vitality and creative energy. Their stance was shaped by the aftermath of the war and what they saw as the stagnation of art. The group tried to break away from the present emphasis on form and intellect, and instead encourage a spontaneous way of painting. They drew inspiration from the naive drawings made by children and the art of primitive cultures as well as contemporary art movements such as Art brut and artists like Jean Dubuffet, Paul Klee and Joan Miró. The core value that they sought was the sense of innocence and naivety, as a form of aesthetic uncorrupted by the Western tradition. By this they sought to find an expression of hope and optimism in contrast to the continents dark past. Jacobsen was never himself a member of the COBRA group, but he continued to work closely alongside these artists. During the 1940s, he mainly focused on sculptures and created massive structures in granite and sandstone which he called ”Mythical creatures”. 

In 1947 he moved to France and lived there until 1969. He began to create sculptures in cast iron and soon went by the nickname ”Gros Robert” (Big Robert). The famous gallery owner and art dealer Denise René was impressed by Jacobsen’s talent and began to exhibit his spectacular sculptures. A sculpture depicting Denise René and artist Richard Mortensen together from ca. 1950 is in the collection of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, manifesting Renés importance to Jacobsen’s early career. In the 1950s, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam showed his art in a retrospective show. In the early days, Jacobsen created figurative sculptures with long, lean forms but later moved towards a more abstract expression. In 1967 he was awarded the Thorvaldsen Medal and he was made an honorary member of the Association of Craftsmen i Copenhagen in 1973. The following year, the King of Sweden awarded him the Prince Eugen Medal. He also designed the statuette for the award presented by the Danish Film Academy, which is named The Robert Awards after Jacobsen. When Jacobsen passed away in 1993, he left behind an outstanding career as a sculptor and artist. He will forever be remembered for his groundbreaking works that have inspired and continue to inspire generations to come.

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Jeanna Ahlin


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