It is in accordance with the Danish tradition that many young artists in the 1980s worked and exhibited within a group; but while in the past these groups generally contested the values expressed by the institutions, today they often operate on ideas that are developed within the Danish Academy of Fine Arts itself. This change reflects the renewed importance attached to technical skill, the influence of art history and the increased emphasis on the theoretical aspects of art.
According to listofusnewspapers, an example of these new ideas is the work of H. Heinsen (b.1935), M. Møller (b.1938) and S. Brøgger (b.1941), all professors of the Academy, who gave birth in the 1960s. to the Skalakunst movement linked to the minimist current, whose fragmented vision of the world can be seen as the first indication in Denmark of postmodernist currents. Heinsen, Møller and Brøgger have worked together on monumental sculptures, such as The Gate of Freedom (1981), which, located in a suburb of Copenhagen, stands ironic and gaunt as a provocative commentary on the social and environmental problems that surround it.
The break with late modernism is perhaps most dramatically represented by the work of 12 young painters of the Academy, the so-called ” young savage painters ”. Their first group exhibition, Kniven på hovedet (“The knife on the head”), in 1982, took on the role of manifesto: ideas from the Italian transavantgarde and the heftige Malerei were expressed.German, but the Danish movement did not have the significance of these expressions, to which it cannot be said that it added particular meanings. In fact, the “ young savage painters ” soon abandoned their starting point of figurative expressionism and began to work with dense, tactile images, full of irony and ambiguity, with a specific desire to underline the element spirituality of art, an attitude that can also be seen in the production of young sculptors since the mid-1980s.
Often, however, the traditional distinction between painting and sculpture lost importance in the 1980s, as many artists worked with combinations of both of these art forms or with installations directly interacting with the exhibition space. This way of working is especially typical of the Ny Abstraktion group (“New abstraction”), whose origins, formal and intellectual, rest on a late modernist tradition, but which has opened new paths with the use of unusual materials, accidental juxtapositions and with the addition of high-tech elements. The group, decimated in 1984, disbanded in 1988, but each member continued in this direction: among them T. Ebbesen (b.1945), M. Sorensen (b.1949), M. Barker (b.1944)) and V. Collaro (b.1946).
Leifsgade 22, which took its name from the address of the atelier, is a collective that brings together five younger artists, also interested in environmental art, who have shown a preference for disused industrial spaces, in which they create modern urban landscapes of marked sensual character.
In the early 1960s Den eksperimenterende kunstskole or Eks-skolen, together with the artists of the Fluxus group, had opposed the monopoly that formal arts education had at the Academy and the predominance in the artistic institutions of former members of the Cobra group. Some of the artists linked to this experimental school, in particular P. Gernes (b.1925), P. Kirkeby (b.1938) and B. Nørgaard (b.1947) – together with L. Adler Petersen (b.1944), U. Reuter Christiansen (b.1943) and E. Hagens (b.1940) – since the end of the seventies they have reunited with the name Arme og Ben (“Arms and legs”), working in absolutely unorthodox ways and with lively pictorial imagination within and with museum spaces and collections, which in the process acquire a whole new dimension. Gernes, who had been the main force of Eks-skolen, gradually distanced himself from the group and then from the art world itself, dedicating himself exclusively to the ornamental decoration of public spaces. Kirkeby has received international recognition for his painting based on nature, of an expressive ” Nordic ” character. Nørgaard, who around 1970 attracted attention with his provocative happenings, now works in more eclectic and popular forms; in his sculptures, often of enormous proportions,
Outside the activity of the groups, many artists, from various generations, work independently. Among the oldest are the surrealist W. Freddie (b.1909), the painter R. Mortensen (b.1910) and the sculptor R. Jacobsen (b.1912) – the latter two coming from a constructivist background of inspiration French – C.-H. Pedersen (b. 1913), P. Hornung (1919-1989) and S. Wiig-Hansen (b. 1922): all artists who work in an expressive way, but very different from each other. P. Nielsen (b. 1920) is still the leading exponent of black and white graphics. Large retrospective exhibitions were dedicated to all these artists in the 1980s; they have often had large public commissions and still exert considerable influence on the younger generations.
Of the middle generation we must mention A. Haugen Sorensen (b.1932), whose surrealist paintings have progressively revealed religious interests, and, among the younger ones, K. Christensen (b.1945), who attracted attention with his heated social commentary, and more recently with his ” space paintings ”, in which he imagines the universe embracing every possibility both of changing the world and of being changed by it.
The social intent, always characterizing Danish art, is rarely expressed today in the contents of the work of art, connecting rather to its function in the references and in the relationships with what surrounds it.