CoBrA is one of the headlines at this year’s final international auction at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen, where we can present more than 100 works by representatives of the legendary art group. We place a special light on Pierre Alechinsky and Asger Jorn.
“Our focus on CoBrA is manifested through an almost complete range within artistic genres such as painting, print, sculpture and ceramics. A common thread throughout the work of the artists in the group was a search for the unconscious, an abstract anti-aesthetic imagery and a new liberated art form that would bring war-torn Europe together – an effort that is fully expressed in the works up for auction” says Niels Raben, head of modern art at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers.
Alechinsky 90 Years
The auction is especially a tribute to Alechinsky, who turns 90 in 2017. He is the only living CoBrA member and is still an active artist. While it was Jorn, Christian Dotremont and Karel Appel, who founded CoBrA in 1948, the then 22-year-old Belgian only joined the group in 1949. His young age notwithstanding, Alechinsky quickly came to fill a significant role in the artistic community with the more experienced artists. He has described this meeting in the following way: "These three years are an exception for Constant, they are already unexceptional for the great Jorn, they are catalysing for Appel and Corneille, they are exhausting for Dotremont, they are fundamental for me." No doubt that the time with CoBrA was a seminal experience for Alechinsky, but his own idiom was only completed after the group's break-up. We mark his outstanding artistic oeuvre with 13 works, including "Retrovision premonitoire" in 1984 and "Et mon bureau?" from the early 1990s.
A Reckless Rebel
Jorn was not only the frontman for CoBrA – with his radical recklessness, he was also the group's artistic rebel. In addition to a production of more than 2,000 works of art, he wrote theoretical articles and was involved in the political and cultural debates of the time. His paintings often deal with universal human themes such as life, death, happiness and love. This is also the case with the works up for auction, including ”Maternitet” (motherhood), which comes from one of Jorn's major series of works – the suite of paintings entitled "The Silent Muse" from 1953. It was made after his stay at Silkeborg Sanatorium with a serious illness and is directly connected to the idea of CoBrA. With Jorn the relationship between the subject and the title are rarely unambiguously translatable, but the offered work, with a bird and a woman, a direct parallel can be drawn to the archetypal annunciation scenes from art history. At the same time ”Maternitet” reflects the circumstances at the time for his friend and the buyer of the work, LL.M. and masters in prehistoric archaeology Viggo Nielsen, whose wife had previously lost a child in an accident and was now pregnant again.
From Le Corbusier’s Enamel to Kudo’s Ear in a Cage
Not everything at this auction will be about CoBrA. We can also present the enamel "20 heures, arrivée à Chandigarh" by one of modernism's most influential figures, the Swiss-French architect, furniture designer, urban planner and artist Le Corbusier. The enamel has been owned by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon and was created in 1959, where Le Corbusier and Utzon worked on the interior design of the Opera House in Sydney. Finally we also want to draw your attention to one of the auction's more curious and humorous works of art in the shape of the Japanese-born artist Tetsumi Kudo’s cage that contains an ear of wax, electrical components and a Lily of the Valley in plastic.
Preview & auction
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen
Preview: 24-28 November
Auction: 6-7 December (Modern art)
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers is one of Scandinavia’s leading international auction houses, and one of Denmark’s oldest. It all started on 6 October 1948, when Arne Bruun Rasmussen conducted the first traditional auction in the saleroom at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen. Today, Jesper Bruun Rasmussen stands at the helm of the family-run business together with the company’s CEO Jakob Dupont.
In 2004, the first online auction was launched, and today the auction house has expanded to include departments in Copenhagen and Aarhus and representations in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the US. About 100,000 lots are auctioned off each year at the eight traditional auctions and the daily online auctions. Here you can bid on everything from art, antiques, modern design and jewellery to books, coins, stamps, wine and weapons.