Robert Jacobsen

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Artist Robert Jacobsen 1912 – 1993 – In the history of modern art, a few great artists stand out from among the rest but one such iconic man was Robert Jacobsen.

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Robert Jacobsen began sculpting in wood as a teenager. Entirely self-taught, he explored new materials and levels of expression with his unique art forms, primarily as a sculptor, but also in the graphic arts.

His preferred medium in the early days was granite and wood from which he created fantastical figures. His most renown work was a series of stone sculptures entitled “Fabulous Beasts” or “Mythical Creatures.” He experimented with different materials including limestone and marble and in the 1930’s created a variety of primitive human like figures.

After the war, Jacobsen moved to Paris France in 1947 where he worked with a local gallery as he expanded his artistic influence and further developed his style. He gravitated more toward the non figurative, simple open form. He wanted to explore and exploit the empty spaces within a sculpture but found the medium of stone too limiting. He incorporated the use of iron in his sculptures and was thus able to expand his artistic horizon. Spaces, gaps, and voids were as much part of his art as the solid sculptural elements drawn around them in iron. These abstract forms were welded together and painted black to contrast with the space in a simple yet elegant balance and harmony.

Over the years, Jacobsen’s style ranged from lighter linear geometric forms to more complex and controversial designs in the 1950’s. Though varied, his work is easily identifiable by its spacious construction and gravity-defying elements.

In the 1940’s and 50’s, Jacobsen returned to creating abstract figures, suggestive of the human form, evidently inspired by his own extensive collection of primitive African figures. His creations were welded together from bits and scraps of coarse iron, and other metal objects, assembled as individual figures, known collectively as “dukkerne” or the Dolls. These whimsical figures were originally crafted for family and friends but later were featured in an exhibition in Paris in 1957. This style was consistent in the 1960’s though he also created reliefs in iron and wood on a large scale during this time.

In the 1970’s Jacobsen’s work evolved toward small groupings of figures known as tableaux vivant. These static scenes evoked a certain interaction or tension between the figures. Jacobsen also began to incorporate more colors into his sculptured works as well as his graphic art pieces. In the 1960’s through the 1980’s, Jacobsen taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and in his native Copenhagen.

Jacobsen’s style is distinctive and immediately recognizable. His media and spontaneous method of fabrication are unique in the world of modern art. Rather than create based on sketches or a planned design, Jacobsen created his art through impromptu construction fueled by passionate expression. Jacobsen himself is quoted as saying about his works:

“The objects must be new to yourself.”

Jacobsen’s masterpieces have garnered international acclaim and are exhibited the world over at the most prestigious galleries and museums of modern art. His works are coveted and prized by collectors, but some still appear at auction to this day.

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