Jubilæumsfald: Landsudstillingen 1909

CENTENNIAL FALL: THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION 1909

ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN ITALICS


Valdemar Andersen: Poster for Landsudstillingen i Aarhus/the National Exhibition in Aarhus, 1909.
Designmuseum Danmark
- the photo was taken by me for study purposes hence the poor quality for which I excuse.

I nat for hundrede år siden faldt Valdemar ned fra sit stillads.

Det var kun få timer før åbningen af Landsudstillingen i Århus den 18. maj 1909, og de arbejdede i døgndrift. Han havde stået på et stige sat oven på et stillads, der igen stod oven på et stillads og arbejdet på kuplen til Tuborg-triumfbuen lige ved indgangen:

A hundred years ago tonight Valdemar Andersen fell to the ground from a scaffold.

It happened just a few hours before the formal opening of "Landsudstillingen" (The National Exhibition) in Aarhus on May 18, 1909, and everyone worked day and night to be ready on time. Valdemar had been standing on a wooden ladder placed on top of a wooden scaffold, which in turn stood atop another wooden scaffold while he was working on the dome of the Tuborg triumphal arch at the entrance:


Photo: TV2 Østjylland

- And a very grainy detail to spot the globe of "Tuborg Beer"
and the frontispiece of the arc.


Frygtindgydende faldhøjde / A terrifying height to take a fall from.


Valdemar var et lillebitte slangemenneske, der brugte nedløbsrør som trappestige, når han skulle overraske sine venner i deres kvistlejligheder (om han benyttede samme vej til sin egen lejlighed på kvisten har ingen fortalt os for eftertiden). Men selv den mest adrætte kan træde forkert i sin træthed: Han faldt ned kl. 2 om natten...

Af et rent held faldt han få meter fra et rækværk, der ville have slået ham ihjel på stedet. Han faldt direkte på blød (= våd, det regnede konstant det år) jord og reddede sig med at slå sig halvt fordærvet. På vejen til hospitalet havde hans konstante ord været et vredt "uforsvarligt, uforsvarligt!", fordi sikkerheden havde været så dårlig.

Valdemar was a tiny contortionist who would be using downspouts for a ladder when he wished to surprise friends in their attic apartment (whether he ever used the same road upwards to reach his own apartment in an attic is no longer known). But even the most agile can make one wrong fatigued step: He fell to the ground a few hours after midnight...

Luck had it that he fell a few meters from a fence that would have killed him on the spot. He plunged directly onto the soft (= wet, it rained constantly that year) soil. He broke next to everything in the left side on his body, but his life was saved. On the way to the hospital his constant words were reported to have been the angry outburst: "reckless, irresponsible!" in that safety had been so massively neglected.


Photo: The Weekly Hver8Dag, 1909.
Valdemar var hovedkunstneren på Landsudstillingen med omkring 10 mand konstant i arbejde gennem et halvt år. Det er Valdemar med kasket markeret med rødt.


Valdemar was the leading artist on the National Exhibition with about 10 men working for him for six months. Valdemar is marked in red, wearing a cap:

Kongen tog direkte fra den formelle åbning til hospitalet for at besøge den forslåede og gebrækkede kunstner, for opgaven havde været så omfattende, at han var blevet udstillingens stjerne. Hvad, de to mænd talte om, er forblevet en hemmelighed, som Ekstra-Bladet rapporterede. Samme hovedstadsblad var fornærmet over, at Valdemar end ikke blev nævnt i åbningstalen, hvor borgmesteren satte fokus på sin egen by. Politiken mente snarere, at det var svært overhovedet at høre efter, når borgmesteren til forveksling lignede den politiker og minister, der netop var blevet sat bag lås og slå: Alberti. 

The king headed directly to the hospital from the formal opening to visit the bruised and ruptured artist. His work had been so extensive that he had become the star of the exhibition. What the two men talked about has remained a secret as the newspaper "Extra Bladet" reported. The same paper based in the capital was offended that Valdemar had not even been mentioned in the opening speech in which the mayor focused on his own city. "Politiken" another major newspaper based in Copenhagen thought it rather difficult to even listen to the mayor when he so confusingly resembled the former politician and minister who had just been put behind bars: Alberti.


Photo: The Weekly Hver8Dag, 1909.
På Landsudstillingen som ved enhver anden opgave var stilladserne af træ lavet til lejligheden:


At The National Exhibition as with any other monumental assignment a scaffold was constructed in situ. Entirely of wood as already mentioned:



Valdemar Andersen: The final sketches for the two frontispieces at the Tuborg triumphal arc,
the one affronting the entrance shows fashionable people toasting,
while the gods were seen drinking on the other side.
Designmuseum Denmark.
- the photo was taken by me for study purposes hence the poor quality for which I excuse.
Bemærk, hvordan de lige akkurat har et brædt bag ryggen, hvor de arbejder. End ikke bundbrædderne ser videre solide ud. Man forstår den af malersvendene, som følte at have tilbragt hele foråret i en vuggende jolle, når træet har bevæget sig under dem 3/4 af døgnets timer.

Note how they have but a strip of board behind them while working. Not even the boards underneath them look solid. Afterwards one of his men wrote to Valdemar how he felt he had spent the entire spring in a wobbly boat. The wood had been moving with their every move underneath them for 12-18 hours a day.

Men slutmålet blev fantastisk - de stærkeste farver og frækkeste sammensætninger af dagens politikere (Alberti undtaget) sat i antikke rammer i en farveskala af lilla og gult eksempelvis. Hvor nyt, det var tænkt, oplever vi alene gennem Udstillingens hovedplakat. Alle de indkomne forslag var af denne karakter:

But the final outcome was fantastic. Such as one of the boldest compositions imaginable on the politicians of the day (Alberti excluded) in an antique setting of purples and yellows. The novelty of it on Danish ground is made obvious when compared to the bids for the central poster for the exhibition. All the bids received from other artists were of this nature:        

Mor Danmark, vikingeslyng, higen, længsel og tendens til gråd over fortabte Landssoldater. Alt, hvad Udstillingens ansvarlige ville væk fra. Så Valdemar påtog sig også plakaten - i guld, rødt og grønt, som en dynamisk fanfare, der førte direkte ind i hjertet af Århus.



Mother Denmark, interweaving patterns inspired by the Vikings, declarations of yearning, longing and a tendency to tearing up at the thought of the young lost in war. Everything that the architect responsible for the exhibition had wanted to get rid of. So Valdemar took it upon him to do the poster too - in gold, red and green as a dynamic fanfare leading directly to the heart of Aarhus.


Valdemar Andersen: Detail from the poster for
Landsudstillingen i Aarhus/the National Exhibition in Aarhus, 1909.
Designmuseum Danmark
- the photo was taken by me for study purposes hence the poor quality for which I excuse.


I disse dage åbner Århus fejringen af Landsudstillingens 100-års jubilæum. I mellemtiden har fokus flyttet sig fra Land til By, hvilket har sin raison. Udstillingsformen med dens gigantiske areal af alt, hvad industri og varietéer kunne byde på, sang på sidste vers i de første tiår af det 20. århundrede, og denne udstilling kom ud på den anden side med et substantielt underskud bundet i halen: der var simpelt hen ikke et tilstrækkeligt publikumsgrundlag til at få pengene hjem. 

Men var formen ved at være forældet, betød selve placeringen af Udstillingen alt for Århus by. Det blev en lejlighed til at definere byens selvstændige værdi med dens fremtidige muligheder, nutid og historie. At Den Gamle By blev grundlagt her - midt i den levende by - er et billede på den ikonværdi, Udstillingen skabte for Århus. 

Århus har meget at fejre. Valdemar vil dog knapt blive nævnt, for han var jo københavner.

Aarhus is about to initiate the centennial celebrations of the National Exhibition. In the meanwhile the focus has shifted from the national element to that of the city itself which has its raison. This type of exhibitions with its gigantic proportions showing off what the industry and the world of the burlesque could offer was on its last legs in the first decade of the 20th century. This particular show emerged on the other side with a substantial deficit: The needed amounts of guests were simply not met to win back the money spent on it all.

But if exhibitions were fast becoming obsolete, the location of this exhibition meant everything to Aarhus as a city. It was an opportunity to define the values of the city independently of Copenhagen and delineate its future possibilities, its here and now and its history. The Open Air Museum was founded here - in the middle of the living city – as one instance of the iconic value Aarhus gained from The Exhibition.

Aarhus has a lot to celebrate. Valdemar will but rarely be mentioned. He was after all a Copenhagener.


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