Arken Museum of Modern Art

Bjørn Wiinblad

13 Jun 2015 - 17 Jan 2016

Bjørn Wiinblad
Fifth Theme, The Dallas Apparel Mart, 1971. Sketch for detail in tapestry, gouache on paper. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
13 June 2015 - 17 January 2016

Comprehensive exhibition with this unique figure in Danish art, design and artist-craftsmanship.

Triangular noses and almond eyes surrounded by intricate curlicues and intense colours. For some people Bjørn Wiinblad evokes memories of tiled tables and mantelpieces, for others his colourful flourishes and luxuriant forms are the essence of retro-cool. ARKEN Museum of Modern Art presents the most comprehensive exhibition ever of this unique figure in Danish art, design and artist-craftsmanship.

The wide-ranging artist Bjørn Wiinblad (1918-2006) was a phenomenal image-maker and a richly imaginative communicator. With drawings, posters, gouaches, one-of-a-kind ceramics and huge woven tapestries the exhibition adds new and surprising sides to the Wiinblad we all know and paints a picture of a versatile modern creator of much more than the familiar plaques.

It can never be the quantity of a thing that is wrong – it can only be the quality. I put just as much thought, just as many deliberations, and just as great zeal into doing the right thing in my work when I make wrapping paper as I do when I create a decoration for the Royal Ballet...
Bjørn Wiinblad, 1998.

Bjørn Wiinblad graduated from the Graphics School of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1943 and made his debut just two years later with his first exhibition in small rented premises in central Copenhagen. The exhibition attracted great attention and in its wake followed decoration and design commissions in Denmark and abroad.

The young Wiinblad made his entry on the arts and crafts scene at a time when straight lines and simple design were at the forefront in Danish design. From the outset, with his characteristic curving lines and magical visual universe, Bjørn Wiinblad occupied his own unique position in Danish cultural life and became one of the most well-loved artists in the second half of the 20th century.

A modern all-round artist

As a human being and image-maker Bjørn Wiinblad wanted to communicate a world of beauty, dream and luxury with his art. He wanted to create objects that were accessible to everyone and expressed himself with as much enthusiasm whether it was in plaques, large one-off ceramic objects, costumes for the Royal Ballet, stage curtains or everyday objects such as biscuit tins, gift-wrapping paper and jigsaw puzzles. Wiinblad embraced it all – both the hand-made and the mass-produced – and he was not afraid to break down the boundaries between art and design; an approach that is more relevant today than ever, when the commercial is no longer an artistic taboo and when artists and designers to a great extent share a palette.

Amidst the darkness of the Cold War we have a fantastic artist who looks at the world in a quite different way. With an open mind he draws on stylistic elements from all over the world: China, India, Burma and the pre-Columbian sculptures of South America. With his ebullient colours and fantastical forms he promises the viewer that there is a beauty that exists somewhere.
Christian Gether, Director

From 1970 on Bjørn Wiinblad began producing tapestries in collaboration with a weaving factory in Portugal. These works are Wiinblad’s largest, and the exhibition presents both Wiinblad’s original designs in gouache, the weaving patterns and the woven tapestries.

In collaboration with theatres all over the world Bjørn Wiinblad was able to create his atmospheric staged universes. He was a master of all the decorations of the theatre – curtains, backdrops, scenery, props and costumes.

Precisely when one is working for the theatre, the feeling that I believe is the driving force behind everything I do – the urge to please and surprise – is so crucial. All the concerted efforts are directed towards that one moment when the curtain goes up on the first evening. Everyone in the hall is silent in anticipation.
Bjørn Wiinblad, 1998

In the course of his huge production of posters Bjørn Wiinblad has created posters for Tivoli Gardens, concerts, theatre plays, anniversaries and advertising posters. Many of these are presented in ARKEN’s exhibition.