Thursday, 5 June 2008

Meet Valdemar Andersen


Valdemar Andersen, Poster for an exhibition at the Zoo,
1907. Shown with permission from
Designmuseum Danmark.I apologize for the poor quality
of the photo; it was taken by me for study purposes.
Even the signature of Valdemar Andersen (1875-1928) seems to be have been created of one floating line as if his pen never left the paper. Which is more or less the epitome of his oeuvre.

Floating line as in the delicacy of the it running and winding its way across different solids such as paper, fabric, porcelain or stone of his artworks, as well as in the easiness with which he seems to have jotted it out on paper and not least the amount of artworks Valdemar Andersen created despite being felled by leukemia, when he was but 53.



His signature is in this instance to be found at the one bottom corner of the poster announcing a poster exhibition at the monkey house at the Copenhagen Zoo in 1907. No one really knows nor cares which posters were to be found inside. This one was an instant hit. Even up close the yellow is at once a tangled mess of fur while being broad strokes of color so vibrant that they appear to be still wet. 

This is a poster inviting us by way of confrontation to become beholders (of an exhibition inside as it were) not unlike the author the year before, who inspired the placing of the monkey on the picture plane. Johannes V. Jensen was all about eyes. He declared the superiority of the observational gaze from which knowledge of the natural world order is to be deduced, writing with a haughty glance, placing himself as the one of a higher insight as opposed to us mere mortals. Valdemar Andersen created his face through bold patches of color, drawing in the eyes with a pencil and placing the highlight beneath those very eyes. He scraped in his own signature at the bottom center beneath the hands.

Valdemar Andersen, Portrait of Johannes V. Jensen, 1905/6. Privately owned.
Please excuse the flash reflected in the glass, the photo was taken by me.


Johannes V. Jensen and Valdemar Andersen remained life-long friends taking their art onto the streets, daring themselves to try off any tool, surface or medium they could lay their hands on. If we were his contemporaries we would know Valdemar Andersen from his running to one project to the next, as if he copied the winding of own line and just as our contemporaries do today. Oussama Bouagila of the graffiti group Zwewla is the archetype of the artist was Valdemar Andersen 100 years ago, who wishes to make a difference, and who through his enterprises gains an omnipresence:


Zwewla, March 31, 2015.

Detail of the head of a full page add
in the daily Politiken from November 19, 1908.
Valdemar Andersen's running became iconic to a degree that he was drawn as one of the celebrity Copenhageners to be seen in the streets.

The image shown here is sadly shown in the negative (The Royal Library in Copenhagen was having technical problems on the day I found it), but one small drawing can be seen slipping from his portfolio.


Valdemar Andersen, section of the ceiling of a former court house in Fleskum,
Aalborg, 1921. Note the hair of the toddler as he - races? - atop the tortoise.


The photo below is my favorite one of Valdemar Andersen. He poses as a man of the world complete with a dangling cigarette, while his friend Harald Moltke plays the artist of all times. And look at Valdemar's wonderful wife Juliane sitting as if she were drawn by Valdemar.

Her rush shoes used inside the exhibition halls tells us of the snowy January 1912 when Valdemar and Moltke held their special exhibition to prove they were artists of the best fabric. They both just happened to work in materials of not quite the usual kinds. The exhibition was a great success with Tout Copenhague turning up at the opening. "My, am I glad I changed my shoes for the occasion!" as the curator was quoted in the dailies to have sighed with relief afterwards.


Juliane Andersen, Harald Moltke and Valdemar Andersen, January 1912.
Photo from Valdemar Andersen's own book of photos on the exhibition,
scanned by Simon Bang, 2004.

This is one reason why a blog on Valdemar Andersen had to be embrazing them all; the cartoonists and street artists internationally of our day. He would have been the first to take inspiration from them, inviting then in on the pages of the satirical magazines, he and his fellow colleagues kept initiating in his day. This blog is in turn humbly taking inspiration from him, using that medium of now which combines the magazine with the street.

Valdemar himself is of course to be found everywhere on this blog. From that corner of town where he and colleagues livedThe National Exhibition which was the making of his namehis polite humor, not political in tone and yetthe Japanese inspirations to be found in his works, his special take on marble creating a Modernist version of it, that naughty place for the initiated only, and his unique status of being represented in all departments of Designmuseum Denmark.

- just to mention a few. Please press the tag "Valdemar Andersen" below and many more shall appear:


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