Apr 19, 2023
We Kiss the Earth: Danish Modern Art, 1934-1948 (EMPIRE LINES x Cobra Museum of Modern Art)
Winnie Sze and Pim Arts, curators at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands, carve out the connections between Dutch, Danish, and South African artists like Ernest Mancoba, and see how African masks and sculptures, encountered in European museums, shaped abstract-surrealism in the 20th century.
Cobra - Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam - were three cities at the core of a pan-European political art movement, calling for freedom and common humanity in the wake of World War II. Drawing on cubism, expressionism, and surrealism, they shared Pablo Picasso’s attraction to African masks and sculpture. Yet, they worked between abstract and figurative art, some seeking to escape the exotification, othering, and orientalism of movements past.
Born in British-colonial South Africa in 1904, Ernest Mancoba didn’t ‘come into contact’ with African sculpture as art until he travelled to ethnographic and colonial museums in Paris and London. Along with artists like Sonia Ferlov and Egill Jacobsen, he became a leading figure in collaborative movements like Linien (The Line) and Helhesten (Hell Horse), based in Denmark. Winnie Sze and Pim Arts curate two of three exhibitions celebrating 75 years of the Cobra art movement (1948-1951), which focus on Scandinavia. They detail the differences between African and Western sculpture, how Danish artists used satire and Degenerate Art in acts of resistance against the Nazi Empire, and why Denmark has been othered in the history of avant-garde art.
The three exhibitions of Cobra 75: Danish Modern Art run at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands until 14 May 2023. For more, you can also read my review of Cobra 75 in gowithYamo: https://www.gowithyamo.com/blog/a-triptych-of-danish-modernism-cobra-and-degenerate-art-in-denmark.
WITH: Pim Arts, curator of We Kiss the Earth - Danish Modern Art 1934-1948. Winnie Sze, curator of Je est un autre: Ernest Mancoba and Sonja Ferlov. Both exhibitions are part of Cobra 75: Danish Modern Art.
ART: Works from ‘We Kiss the Earth: Danish Modern Art, 1934-1948’.
IMAGE: Peter Tijhuis.
PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.
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