The exhibition and book Bjørn Nørgaard. Re-Modelling the World presents one of the most ground-breaking and agenda-setting figures within Nordic contemporary art since the mid-1960s. When Bjørn Nørgaard began his career as a very young man, he operated on the outskirts of the established art scene. Right from the outset, he adopted a critical view of the main institutions of art – particularly the art academy, art museum, and art criticism – and it is quite telling that he got his education within the working collective Eks-Skolen (The Experimental Art School) rather than at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, which at the time was regarded as the main route leading to widespread recognition as an artist. The experimental art school formed a setting for individual and collective explorations of the links between art, politics, economics, and everyday lived life. This involved the use of new materials, new forms of working, and new forms of presentation, some of which drew on the lessons learnt by historical avant-garde art founded in the early twentieth century, but at the same time, the work was strongly influenced by the young artists’ encounters with the most recent art from Germany and the USA where happenings, installation art, and action art had begun to gain prominence.
The book and exhibition Bjørn Nørgaard. Re-Modelling the World showcases a prominent artist’s road from the 1960s with their radical, at times Utopian striving for open-ended works up towards the popular, narrative, and visually seductive artistic production that has characterised Bjørn Nørgaard in recent decades. This road has led to monumental works in the public space, but these large-scale works have emerged side by side with material actions and performances, which the artist has maintained as part of his practice throughout his career. In the mid-1960s, no-one would ever have guessed that an experimental artistic practise that initially took on the most humble and fragile forms – using plaster, wire, cardboard, and textiles as favourite materials – would ever progress the way it did, even reaching far into the institutions to which the artist offered such resistance as a young man. Nevertheless, a red thread runs through his entire production, and this is documented in this book.