Kerry Greaves Curates Exhibition on Danish Avant-Garde Art During World War II

On May 17th, recent alum Kerry Greaves opens the exhibition War Horses: Helhesten and the Danish Avant-Garde During World War II at NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale.

Based on Greaves’ dissertation project, this is the first museum exhibition to focus on the Danish avant-garde group, Helhesten (The Hell-Horse). The group was established in Copenhagen in 1941 by leading modernists of the period who courageously created expressive abstract art and exhibited and published a journal together throughout the German occupation of Denmark from 1940 – 1945. The exhibition, which examines the significance of Helhesten by exploring how and why European modern art was made during the rise of Fascism, includes 120 paintings, works on paper and sculptures by artists such as Ejler Bille (1910-2004), Henry Herrup (1907-1983), Asger Jorn (1914-1973), Carl-Henning Pedersen (1913-2007) and others.

Among the exhibition’s highlights are:

  • Ejler Bille’s bronze sculpture, Store maske (Large Mask), 1944, in which the artist experiments with the dynamic interplay of geometric and two- and three-dimensional forms in creating a comical, human-like figure with stubby, flat arms and feet.
  • Asger Jorn’s Untitled, c. 1941. The ideas of European Surrealists fascinated Jorn, and the lively colorful, abstract forms in this work, transform an ordinary barrel into a thing of beauty. In its fusion of the ordinary with high art, the work aspects of later twentieth-century art movements, such as Pop art.

The exhibition will be on view through September 27, and is accompanied by a substantial illustrated catalogue featuring essays by Kerry Greaves, Michael Leja and Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen. More information on the exhibition and related public programming can be found on the NSU Museum’s website.

In other news, Greaves was recently awarded a Novo Nordisk Foundation post-doctorate fellowship at the University of Coopenhagen, where she will study the tradition of the artists’ collective in Denmark. Visit the Novo Nordisk website to learn more about the Foundation’s activities and Greaves’ research project. Congratulations!