Artists Controversies News Denmark

Row threatens Asger Jorn legacy

Accusations fly as partners fall out and artist-in-residence quits

Asger Jorn at his home in 1968

The legacy of the late Danish artist Asger Jorn (1914-73) has been threatened, following a falling out of the men who jointly own Jorn’s former studio on Læsø, an island off the country’s northern coast.

At the heart of row is the accusation that one of the owners, the Danish businessman Peter Linder, had been exploiting Jorn’s name for his own commercial ends (ironic, considering Jorn was a lifelong communist). “Linder has a huge wish to appear positive in media. By stepping in as a character in the art scene he hopes that it have an effect on his company,” says Tom Christoffersen, a Copenhagen-based gallerist, the co-owner of the studio, who has now ended his collaboration with Linder.

In 2010, Linder launched a scholarship worth DKr50,000 (£5,600) to fund an artist residency at the studio. But the first artist to receive the scholarship, Rusudan Melikishvili, complained of feeling exploited by being asked to attend events promoting Linder’s management consultancy business. She eventually pulled out of the scholarship. The local government authority on Læsø also pulled out of the co-operation when it learnt of this, scuppering the scholarship after its first year.

Linder also owns a house that Jorn owned in Albisola, on the coast near Genoa in Italy, which was being turned into a museum. But to add to Linder’s woes, the museum, which was due to open in September, will not open until March 2014.

Linder, who declined to comment on the criticism aimed at him, says Jorn’s house in Albisola, which the artist bought in the 1950s, will have two purposes: to build a relationship between Albisola and Læsø, and to support the marketing of the Museum Jorn, in Silkeborg, Denmark, which has the world’s largest collection of the artist’s work.

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