The painter Kirsten Kjær (1893-1985) is a unique figure in Danish art. As one of the very few female artists, she has her own museum, but she has largely faded from art history. Despite being a colorful personality who made her mark at exhibitions in both Copenhagen and abroad, she remained an artistic outsider, then as now.
Kirsten Kjær was self-taught with a strong, expressive style and a focus on portraiture. One of her supporters, art critic Walter Schwartz, described her in 1943 as a genius, “Certainly a genius with a twist occasionally, sometimes a failed genius – but a genius, in any case.” In a time when Cubist-inspired abstraction was predominant, she charted a new course. She wanted to move art away from the cool, refined interest in form and instead, as she said, bring art back to humanity.
Her original portrait paintings exude presence with their compelling gazes, complex character portrayals, and vibrant, symbolic backgrounds. Through her portraits of writers, the unemployed, politicians, artists, and refugees, she created a powerful image of her time and its people.
The exhibition is organized in close collaboration with Kirsten Kjær’s Museum and art historian Hanne Abildgaard, who has recently published a comprehensive research-based monograph on the artist, “Kirsten Kjær: Menneskemaler” (2023). This monograph serves as the catalog for the exhibition and can be purchased in the museum’s shop.
The opening reception at the museum is on Friday, November 10th, from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM. The exhibition will be opened by art historian and author Hanne Abildgaard and acting director and curator Helle Brøns.
The exhibition is supported by: 15. Juni Fonden, Dronning Margrethes & Prins Henriks Fond, Lektor Peer Rander Amundsens Legat, Sorø Spare- & Laanekasse, Aage og Johanne Louis Hansen Fonden.
Top photo: Kirsten Kjær: “Self-portrait,” Paris 1931, Kirsten Kjær’s Museum