Kirsten Ortwed (f. 1948), Full Length, 2008.
Kirsten Ortwed (f. 1948), Full Length (detail), 2008, Photo: Iben Bølling Kaufmann.
Kirsten Ortwed (f. 1948), Platform, 2006.
Kirsten Ortwed, Photo: Iben Bølling Kaufmann.
Statens Museum for Kunst
+ 45 3374 8494
Kirsten Ortwed. Full Length
June 14, 2008-March 8, 2009
Iron chains, gratings, trolleys, wax as well as an immensely heavy, 13 metre-long bronze sculpture. Kirsten Ortwed’s enigmatic sculptures will occupy all of the 2,000 m² of The Sculpture Street as well as neighbouring exhibition rooms, when as Sculptor of the Year at Statens Museum for Kunst she is responsible for a monumental and retrospectively organised exhibition.
It is quite justified to call the sculptor Kirsten Ortwed (b. 1948) a unique phenomenon in recent Danish art. She has single-mindedly and unreservedly concentrated on an unusually independent and original exploration of the possibilities of sculpture. She has an unparalleled sensitivity as to the most intimate possibilities of her materials, which lies behind the artistic idiom which is totally her own; at the same time, experimentation and an interest in the unpredictable have given her continual impetus. She has acquired international recognition over the years for her artistic shaping of the public space, for example, and her works are to be found at a great number of museums both at home and abroad.
Ortwed is a sculptor through and through. More than the majority of her fellow artists, she whole-heartedly follows — and is involved in — every stage of the work on her sculptures, from the very first tentative idea to the final finish. If she is classically inclined as to the work process, she is equally untraditional in her uncompromising investigation of various idioms and materials. Ortwed’s sculptures never get stuck in the rut of stylistic repetitiveness. The formats vary in scale from the monumental and almost monstrous to the dainty. As regards materials, she is just as at home with hard bronze or granite, for example, as with everyday objects of varying sizes, and even to softer and more transitory materials like fabric, wax and newspapers.
Ortwed’s works have an almost disturbing introversion and do not make any concessions to their surroundings. At the same time, however, they do not demand any particular theoretical knowledge of their observers. In fact they are there as immediate and pure sculptures, which means that they stress their own premises, like form, surface and correspondence with their surroundings, rather than function, representation or recognition. This combination of hard and soft elements, at times fairly contrastive, establishes surrealistic undercurrents hinting at elements such as discipline, torture and sadomasochism. But Ortwed never allows her works to drop off into conclusion and unambiguous positions. Instead she presents them as open and in their own way unbounded investigations of the unknown and unproven in the art of sculpture. Or, as the sculptor herself says, “I want to experience more than I already know.”
The exhibition at Statens Museum for Kunst occupies the Museum’s 2,000 m² large Sculpture Street and an adjoining exhibition room, and affords a retrospective cross-section of Kirsten Ortwed’s oeuvre ”in full length” from the 1970s and up to today. Full Length is also the title of the 13 metre-long bronze sculpture which Ortwed has specially created with a view to matching and challenging the enormous space of the Sculpture Street. The other axis of the Sculpture Street is occupied by Ortwed’s contribution to the Venice Biennial in 1997, the sculpture group Tons of Circumstances, which Statens Museum for Kunst has just acquired with support from Hermod Lannung’s Museum Foundation.
Free entrance to the exhibition
Publication: Kirsten Ortwed Full Length, Hardcover book, 184 pages, Danish and English 199,00 Dkr, ISBN: 978-87-92023-16-2, preface by Karsten Ohrt, introduction by Jacob Wamberg; essays by Lise Skytte Jakobsen and Britta Tøndborg, an interview of the artist by Per Jonas Storsve. The book is available in the Museum’s bookshop.