Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Da Leda glemte svanen

WHEN LEDA FORGOT ABOUT THE SWAN

ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN ITALICS


- Hvor tror du, Ib er nu? spurgte en deltager på vej til gårsdagens bisættelse af Ib Spang Olsen. Jeg gik glip af svaret, og det syntes nu også åbenlyst i den høje, blå himmel med mængden af mennesker, der samledes omkring hans båre. Salen kunne lige så vel have været fuld af 4-årige. Det er rækkevidden af hans livsværk.

Dele af et livsværk kan stadig gå uigenkaldeligt tabt med den kontekst, som gav drømmen fylde. Det gør ondt at erkende, så lad os kaste os over et fund - gjort af Søren Tordrup, der er en de af de fuldstændigt uundværlige i eftersporingen af Valdemar Andersens værk. Han har en uforlignelig evne til at slå til, når guldkorn dukker op, og hans fund har hver gang betydet ny viden.

Og ikke mindre eftertanke, som nu et nummer af Plat'menagen:


- Where do you think, Ib is now? A guest asked her companion when entering yesterday's funeral of the cartoonist Ib Spang Olsen. I missed the answer and well, it did seem evident underneath the clear blue sky as we all were, and with the number of us, who gathered around him for the last time. The chapel might as well have been full of 4-year olds. That is the greatness of his life's work, spanning all generations.

Aspects of an artist's work can still be irretrievably lost with the context that originally gave life to the dream. It hurts to admit, so let us throw ourselves at a find ​​by Søren Tordrup, who is one of The Indispensables in unearthing works by Valdemar Andersen. He has an unparalleled ability to strike, when treasures surface, and his findings have each time given new insights.

And no less have his finds been crucial to new afterthought, such as an edition of the magazine "Plat'menagen" from 1908:






Valdemar har været så fræk at sætte hele to malerier af danske Oscar Matthiesen sammen til ét med resultatet, at deres motiver bliver skærende: Leda med Svanen og dragoner på vej ud i havet, de sidste befinder sig i dag på Ystads Militärmuseum. Nordens (stadig?) største maleri:

Valdemar has playfully put two paintings together by Oscar Matthiesen with the result that their motives collide: Leda and the Swan with Dragoons heading out into the sea. The latter is now in Ystad Militärmuseum (yes, it was very fittingly made for a military museum) and was back then (still is?) the largest painting in the North:



Oscar Matthiesen: Svenske dragonofficerer rider i bad/ swedish dragoons riding to a bath
1906, Ystads Konstmuseum.
A detail below to the left as shown in the 
magazine Jugend two years later:


I Valdemars version har de skam beholdt beviset på deres rangorden, der gør hele forskellen mellem upåklædt og nøgen. En forskel, som Kenneth Clark og på dansk grund Ellings arvtagere i kunsthistorien har brugt MEGET tid på, så lad os ikke her... men Leda har under alle omstændigheder glemt alt om svanen over sig.

In Valdemar's version the dragoons have kept on the evidence of their hierarchy, which makes all the difference between their being undressed and naked. A difference, which the art historian Kenneth Clark and around here his Danish colleagues, to be precise the successors of Professor Elling have spent MUCH time elaborating on, so let us not even begin here... but Leda has in any case forgotten all about the swan dangling above her head.







De fænomenale nakker, taget direkte fra forlægget, er ikke er så meget forskellig fra en Johannes Poulsen som middelaldersoldaten Bertran de Born, men forskellen ligger i holdningen. Matthiesen står bag sin dyrkelse af naturmennesket, voluminøst helt ud i lærredets vingefang. Teatertegneren Valdemar Andersen er derimod ren overdrivelse, fordi det er en leg med skuespiller og publikum.

Valdemar tog aldrig Johannes V. Jensens udviklingssyn på sig, som de overdrevne naturmennesker, dragonerne udgør. Og endnu mere interessant, var også Oscar Matthiesen dekorationskunstner - Geologisk Museum har et pragttrappeloft af giganter. De to kunne ikke være mere forskellige af udsyn. Valdemar brugte kun sjældent figurer i sine dekorationer, og de blev underspillet som en del af den vibrerende mønsterflade. Der var aldrig muskuløse kæmper på vej ud af loftet i hans kunst.

Their phenomenal necks, borrowed directly from the original dragoon-painting, are not so very different from the actor Johannes Poulsen as seen in the role of the medieval warrior Bertran de Born, but the difference from painting to drawing is in the attitude. Matthiesen promotes the worship of man as the commander of nature, voluminous in body as in the expanse of the canvas. Valdemar Andersen on the other hand exaggerates out of pure playfulness, giving the pathos of the role its all and then some.

Valdemar never took to the theories on human evolution in spite of his friendship with the evolutionary-ecstatic author, Nobel laureate Johannes V. Jensen, to whom the dragoons would constitute the ultimate in man. And not least worth noting, Oscar Matthiesen was working in the monumental scale too. The Geological Museum in Copenhagen has a magnificent ceiling of titans from his hands. The two artists could hardly be any different. Valdemar but rarely included figures into his monumental decorations, and they remained understated as part of the vibrating surface of patterns. There never were any muscular giants bursting forth from the ceiling in his art.



Valdemar Andersen, ceiling in a cupola for the fashionable warehouse "Varehuset", 1910. 


Plat'menagens forside har muligvis endnu et lag i sig, idet garnisonen i Ystad på denne tid var midt i en sønderrivende skandale, forårsaget af et par skødesløse linjer i et brev og en udeblivelse fra et teselskab - muligvis bare et tilfælde? - rygtet alene førte brevskriveren til sindssygeanstalt med implikationer helt ind i kernen af svensk magtliv. Skandalen ebbede ud lige så pludseligt, som den var begyndt, men intet kunne blive som før - uden at nogen kunne sige, hvad der var sket. Det er klart, at man midt i denne historie har nydt at se garnisonens herrer boltre sig til hest som indbegrebet af mental og fysisk sundhed.

The cover of "Plat'menagen" may have another layer to it, in that the garrison in Ystad was the center of a devastating scandal at this time, caused by a few careless lines in a letter and a no-show at a tea party. The lines in the letter and the no-show were prompted by a rumor on infidelity, and the rumor alone would eventually lead the letter-writer to an asylum for the insane and the whole case had implications in the very core of institutional Sweden. The scandal ebbed away as suddenly as it had begun, but nothing would be as before - without anyone being able to say with any certainty, what had actually taken place. Obviously, in the middle of disaster, it would have been imperative to portray the men of the garrison frolicking on horseback as the epitome of mental and physical health.




Udkast til plakat af Valdemar Andersen gengivet med tilladelse af Designmuseum Danmark.
Fotoet er til studiebrug og den manglende kvalitet tager jeg derfor på mig.
Draft for a poster by Valdemar Andersen, shown with permission from Designmuseum Danmark.
The photo was taken by me for study purposes and I apologize for its poor quality.


Nu har det kun handlet om dragoner. Der findes endnu en notorisk upåklædt person - heller ikke hun er nøgen - på tegningen. Eller? Valdemars kvinder synes meget lidt fysiske, så fagkundskaben i liv og kunst ved Per Arnoldi og Simon Bang er blevet forhørt, om Valdemars gengivelse af La Belle Otero med afgrundsdybe øjenhuler og kun iklædt ædelsten, hvoraf det levende menneske skal have været skyld i 6 ulykkelige bejleres selvmord. Men var tegningen af hende i grunden erotisk?

Deres svar faldt prompte: Jo, hun er da nysselig. Sagde den ene. Kysselig, sagde den anden. 

Hvis udfaldet skal være statistisk korrekt, mangler der ganske vist 1998 yderligere forsøgspersoner (og de findes, de empiriske æstetikere), men vi kan vist gå direkte til konklusionen, at Valdemars personer lægges ud i papiret. De er kunst.


Now, so far it has been all about dragoons. There is another spectacularly undressed person - not even she is naked - in the drawing. Or is there? Women as drawn by Valdemar tend to have very little physicality to them. So I turned to the professionals in life and art, Per Arnoldi and Simon Bang, and questioned them whether Valdemar's presentation of "La Belle Otero" with abysmal dark eye sockets, clad in nothing but precious stones, of which the actual woman is said to have been the cause of six wretched suitors killing themselves. But was the drawing of her even erotic?

Their answers fell promptly: Well, she is "nysselig" (cutesy). Said the one. "Kysselig" (smooch-worthy), said the other.

If the results were to be statistically correct, we would need 1998 additional test persons (and they do exist, the empirical aestheticians), but I think we can safely take the short route to the conclusion that Valdemar's characters belong to the paper, onto which they are drawn. They are art.



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