Meet the Danish collector whose Hirsts have just gone on show in Copenhagen

Jyte Dresing has loaned eight works to Copenhagen's Arken Museum of Modern Art


A major new collector of work by Damien Hirst has emerged, 79-year-old Jytte Dresing, from Denmark. Eight of her Hirsts are on show at Copenhagen’s Arken Museum of Modern Art, in an extension which opened on 26 January (January 2008, p17).

Mrs Dresing is a private person, and nothing has been published about her collection outside Denmark. Along with her husband Dennis, she began to buy classical modern art in the early 1990s, before moving on to contemporary. Dennis Dresing, a lawyer and the grandson of the founder of the pharmaceutical company Ferrosan, died three years ago.

Although Mrs Dresing still has a residence in Copenhagen, she spends much of her time in London. She and her husband, whose grandmother was British, had moved to London partly to be in touch with the international art world. The Dresing collection now comprises 150 works. Artists represented include David Hockney, Marc Quinn, Richard Estes, James Rosenquist, Raoul Dufy, Max Ernst, César, Pierre Soulages and Neo Rauch.

Their first Hirst was the spin painting Beautiful Charity, bought at a Sotheby’s charity auction for the Environmental Justice Foundation on 5 December 2001. Four years later Mrs Dresing met White Cube owner Jay Jopling at Art Basel Miami Beach, and since then they have become friends. Her most important Hirst is The Four Elements (Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue), a four-part butterfly painting which is eight metres long, acquired at White Cube in 2006. Last May she was taken to Hirst’s studio, where she bought a bladder picture and Carcinoma, a work consisting of dead flies on canvas.

The Dresings have also collected work by Danish artist Asger Jorn, and they donated ten of his paintings to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek. In 2004 they presented a further ten works by other artists, including Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Per Kirkeby. Last October Mrs Dresing bought a three-panel painting Agamemnon by Jonathan Meese, which is now on loan to Louisiana.

Mrs Dresing also supports other Danish galleries. She has just donated a Mona Hatoum mirror sculpture to the Aarhus Kunstmuseum. At Art Basel last June she bought Rock of the Night, a 12-metre-long series of panels by Clare Woods, which is now on loan to Arken. Most of the Dresing works are owned by the Merla Art Foundation.