The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Thorvaldsen Interpreted in the Light of Danish Sculpture of the 1980s

  • Else Marie Bukdahl, arkivet.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk, 2003
  • This is a re-publication of the article:

    Else Marie Bukdahl: ‘Thorvaldsen Interpreted in the Light of Danish Sculpture of the 1980s’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 2003, p. 117-125.

    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.


Summary Thorvaldsen Interpreted in the Light of Danish Sculpture of the 1980s

The sculptors Hein Heinsen and Morten Stræde, each belonging to their own generation, are both prominent representatives of the new departure in sculpture that was seen in the 1980s. Like Thorvaldsen, they, too, have been professors in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. They have proposed interpretations of Thorvaldsen’s Jason, which have placed this sculpture in a modern context and given it renewed relevance to the artistic life of our day. On the basis of their individual points of view, they have demonstrated that precisely Jason contains many visualizations of various modern experiences. This applies in particular to the contest between unity and multiplicity and between order and chaos, which are distinguishing features in their own sculptures in a far more radical and striking manner. Examples of this are Hein Heinsen’s Skulptur 87 (1987) and Morten Stræde’s Winterreise. Schlusschor (1992). Hein Heinsen emphasises that in Jason it can clearly be seen how the unity of the ideal and the myth illustrated in the figure of Jason quite literally sets out from and rises above the world of multiplicity and the incalculable complexity visualised in the tree stump with the flowing drapery and in the Fleece, which has the appearance of an infinite archipelago. Or, in his own words: “Jason’s marked upright posture is quite separate from the floating bits and pieces of the tree stump, the monotonous knots of the fleece, the crinkles and spirals of the cloak. The width of the fissures is so modern in Jason.” The two sculptors have also laid bare the traces of Thorvaldsen’s own fierce struggle to create a resplendent whole and an ideal figure. He has a splinter of the troll’s mirror of modern experience in his eye. Morten Stræde has formulated it in these words: “Thorvaldsen cannot form this ‘whole’ in one go but rather has to gradually build it up in a complex process of reconstruction and thus his work embraces from the very start the modern problematic: the schism between an urge for ‘wholeness’, natural connexion and the awareness of the impossibility of it.” The two sculptors agree that – as Morten Stræde has put it: “Thorvaldsen’s sculpture can be seen as focal points between antiquity and the modern experience.”

Last updated 11.05.2017