Henry HEERUPLegedage.

Copenhagen, Centre graphique, 1969.

Large folio (580 x 630mm.), in sheets as issued in publisher’s illustrated portfolio.

Illustrated text page printed in blue and black,  8 stunning original colour lithographs numbered and signed by the artist, mounted in passe-partout. Layout by J. Chr. Sørensen. Complete.

First Edition, one of 100 copies on vélin d’Arches of a total issue of 125 copies.

Amazing large format 1960s Cobra children’s book by the great Danish artist.

Already as a child Henry Heerup (1907-1993) was a diligent draughtsman. After short periods of apprenticeship as a stone cutter, sign writer, bronze caster and lithographer he was admitted to Kunstakademiets Malerskole (School of Painters at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in 1927. For a short while he attended courses at Billedhuggerskolen (School of Sculpture), but his teacher Einar Utzon-Frank informed him that he lacked the talent to become a sculptor. He created sculptures by carving the figure out of a lump of clay instead of modelling it as he was told to. All through his life Heerup worked with painting, sculpture, etching and drawing. Among fellow artists he first became known as a sculptor. He worked mainly in granite, carving – inspired by the Roman stone cutters – odd creatures and figures out of the stone and painting them in strong colours like Jellingstenen (Danish runic stone). In artistic circles he caught most attention, though, with his junk sculptures, for which old perambulator wheels, bedposts, broken toys – old trash that Heerup would find on his daily bicycle rides – were assembled into odd and fantastic figures. It was the stone and junk sculptures that Heerup displayed together with works by Ejler Bille and other Danish avant-garde artists that gathered in the group linien in 1934. Later Heerup participated in Høst-udstillingen and, in 1949, joined the Cobra movement and participated in its exhibitions (Amsterdam,1949 and Liège, 1952). It was, however, as a painter and graphic artist that Heerup gained his popular breakthrough. In his early works he painted pictures in a naturalistic idiom of the animals in the Zoo. But early on he broke with naturalism’s conception of space and light and developed a form of his own. An ornamental flat painting, where the contour line is important, and where the colours are used as symbol colours and in their own right. Heerup is one of the great storytellers of Danish art. The fundamental source of his narrative is ordinary life – everyday life, love, sexuality, family, children, the woman, the daily bicycle ride. In the art work of Heerup common objects become universal symbols of the big and impalpable sides of existence: Life and death. With an imagery that is fertile, imaginative and entirely his own, Heerup deals with the urgent questions of life on a level, which both children and adults can understand. Henry Heerup has created many decorative works for both institutions and the public space (Holstebro).

CoBrA is a European interdisciplinary and collective avant-garde movement active in the aftermath of World War II (from 1948 to 1951), whose name was derived from the first letters of the three cities – Copenhagen (Co), Brussels (Br), Amsterdam (A) – that were the homes of its members, a group of young idealistic artists, philosophers, poets, and writers. CoBrA grew out of the artists’ critical stance toward capitalist production and consumption. Creative freedom, experimentation and social engagement were the driving forces of the movement, which married a primitivist eye for the raw creativity in the art of children and the mentally ill with a Marxist interpretation of the world to come. As a form of resistance to Western artistic values, they explored the elements and strategies of folk art, children’s art, and art from Africa and the Pacific Islands. Their resulting work was often characterized by bold colour and spontaneous brushwork, sometimes irreverent images of abstract and semi-abstract forms that evoked the brutal nature of the social conditions of the time. They wrote poems and essays about their ideas, which they published in periodicals they organized, Cobra and Helhesten. Although the CoBrA movement was short-lived, its artists worked independently thereafter, often furthering the aesthetic and ideals of the Cobra movement. The work they produced after 1948 became a major force in the development of American and European modern art from mid-century to the present.

Réf. Holstebro Kunstmuseum, Denmark | MoMa, New York, U.S.A. | NSU Art Museum, U.S.A.

The lithographs have often been framed by collectors and very few complete copies of this book have thus survived.

Price on request

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