Sunday, 31 January 2016

For the kingdom of a little boy


Photo by Misling Andersen Rasmussen.

Photo by Misling Andersen Rasmussen.
Valdemar Andersen is constantly encompassed with the verbs could and did: He could it all and he did it too. It felt as if it just flowed from his hands, his contemporaries tell us.

Yesterday a discussion grew from one corner of his work. On this occasion playthings carved out of wood for his son and yet again we experienced how the one piece opened to all corners of his professional life and in this instance not least to his very first beginnings.

For one thing his own father was a carpenter (or is the right word a joiner? he was a supervisor) and wood was obviously the first material on which the young Valdemar tried his hands. Obviously so, since many years later when he has decorating the small dining room at Christiansborg, Abildgaardsalen they needed something to go at the top of a great grandfather clock.

The girl with the butterfly atop the clock in Abildgaardsalen, 1921.
The photo was taken by me.
Valdemar modeled a girl contemplating a butterfly setting off; she seeking to protect its first flutterings from the world with her hands. Such a delicate piece on the vulnerability of life and the shortness of it seeing our lives change within a flicker of a moment. It was a piece made here and now, it sort of - again - grew from his own hands, when the wish for a piece arose.

The literature tend to guess at other artists as its creators in that Valdemar Andersen never did much sculpture in his professional life. The girl is so fully captured from all sides; there are no awkward angles.

From childhood to mature artist we do indeed not have much to bridge his sense of the wood nor working in three dimensions, until his grandson and his wife took out three horses, the one of which a foal. Incisions give the twist to the right feeling of bone or muscles underneath and much work has gone into the mules to give them personality. All three of them carved for Valdemar's son, Ib Andersen, to play with as a child. The two grown horses are 35 cm. in height and 31 cm in length and thus large enough for a young child to ride on.


Detail of photo from Valdemar Andersen's special exhibition in 1912 at Den Frie.
The original photo was scanned by Simon Bang
- the present photo was taken by me and I apologize for the poor quality of it.


Valdemar Andersen, detail of sketch from a cattle show.
Shown with permission from The Centre for Maps,
Prints and Photographs, The Royal Library.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo;
it was taken by me for study purposes.
Of which we have proof from a painting made for a special exhibition in 1912 and presumably painted in 1911, when Ib was four years old. The present photo is of poor quality, I apologize. The whereabouts of the painting is not known today (yet?) and hence we only know of the work from the exhibition. The horses are zebras here, possibly Ib had a small wooden zoo, which is not at all unlikely or the stripes are included to echo the white of the birch trees in the background. I would guess at the first option, especially since there is a small cart too next to him in their exact size for them to pull.

Valdemar Andersen, scrap of paper with a sketch of a foal.
Shown with permission from The Centre for Maps,
Prints and Photographs, The Royal Library.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo;
it was taken by me for study purposes.
There are horses aplenty in Valdemar Andersen's work. Most of them are of the sturdy, working kind and Valdemar would go to every cattle show about, when he was working in Jutland. He was born a townie and stayed one, so these were an opportunity to draw the animals from life.

The sketch to the left could have been the draft before turning to the wood. We cannot tell today, only that the specifics such as the joints have been so carefully drawn to get them right on canvas, paper, or in wood later on.

Below is the sketch for a fronton for one of the exhibition halls of the National Exhibition in 1909 in Aarhus. This time in the monumental scale of a horse of a couple of meters long and as always the lines were direct from the monumental to the personal scale of his own boy.


Valdemar Andersen, Final draft for the fronton to the agricultural section
in the National Exhibition in Aarhus 1909.
Shown with permission from Designmuseum Danmark.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo;
it was taken by me for study purposes.




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