ARS UNA - Johan Rohde (1856-1935)
The artist Johan Rohde was at the leading edge of developments in contemporary modern European art, becoming around 1900 a highly central figure within Danish painting and art craft. Today, Rohde is best known for his design of silver for, among others, Georg Jensen and for his exquisite and sophisticated furniture.
His point of departure, however, is symbolism in painting, where he also made his mark with a number of remarkable works, especially landscape pictures and portraits that combine stylised, decorative forms with a completely distinctive poetic mood. He was also an important critic, who, with a sharp pen, took an active part in the art debate of his time. As a reaction against the established art institutions, he took the initiative of setting up Den frie Udstilling (The Free Exhibition) in 1893.
No matter the material or type of object, Rohde's works bear witness to a special sense of form where he tries to strip down the artistic idiom. The works often display a simplicity that anticipates the pictorial art and design of modernism, whilst also maintaining a connection with the classical periods, known to him from his travels in Italy and other countries. Even though Rohde did not cherish a desire to unite all forms of art into one work, a 'Gesamtkunstwerk', his works do reflect the ideals of the 'Skønvirke' style regarding the creation of such a work. All art is one and the same, though manifested in a many different forms: ARS UNA - SPECIES MILLE.
The exhibition has been organised on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Rohde's birth. It is the most comprehensive presentation for many years, with a large number of paintings on show, along with works of graphic art, furniture and silver artefacts and accompanying sketches. The artefacts have been selected with a desire to bring out the cohesive link between forms, surfaces and ornaments in the many different media that Rohde displayed such consummate mastery of. There is also a selection from Rohde's collection of, among other things, graphic works by French symbolists and antique items as examples of his sources of inspiration.
A richly illustrated catalogue is published, with articles by Lise Funder, Mag. art. (art historian), Mirjam Gelfer-Jørgensen, dr. phil., (research librarian at The Danish Museum of Decorative Art), Museum Inspector Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen (Odense City Museums), Anders V. Munch, ph.d. (lecturer at Aarhus School of Architecture) and Museum Inspector Gertrud Oelsner (Storstrøms Kunstmuseum).
The exhibition project has been developed in collaboration with Storstrøms Kunstmuseum, Maribo.