Interplay - Sigurjón Ólafsson & Finn Juhl

thinking across sculpture and design

  • 23.4.2015 - 30.8.2015, Listasafn Sigurjóns Ólafssonar

A new light will be shed on the relationship between the Danish architect Finn Juhl (1912-1989) and Sigurjón Ólafsson (1908-1982) in the years of 1940 to 1945. Both of them were pioneers, each in his field, and both went unexplored paths in their experiments with form and material.

The exhibition will include Finn Juhl's furniture which he presented at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild's  furniture exhibitions in 1940 and 1941; the chair The Pelikan and the sofa The Poetalong with sculptures by Sigurjón which Finn Juhl chose to interplay with his furnitures.

In recent years, the work of Finn Juhl has gained great popularity worldwide. The Danish company Onecollection, who is the main sponsor of this exhibition, patents the production of furniture designed by Finn Juhl.

The exhibition is a re-evaluation of the modernist encounter between the Danish architect Finn Juhl (1912-1989) and the Icelandic sculptor Sigurjón Ólafsson (1908-1982). During the years 1939 - 1945 their collaboration appears through several avant-garde dialogues between art and design. Both had been involved in important architectural projects; Juhl assisted Vilhelm Lauritzen in the design of the new broadcasting building in Copenhagen (1937-46), and in 1937 Ólafsson was awarded the first prize in a competition for a Children's Culture House to be built in the Tivoli Gardens designed with architect Flemming Teisen and artist Egon Mathiesen. Juhl and Ólafsson exhibited together at the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild Furniture Exhibition in 1940 where Juhl's Pelican table and chair were juxtaposed with one of Ólafsson's anthropomorphic sculptures carved in wood, characteristic for his humanist approach and material truth. The same year Juhl designed a home-studio for Ólafsson and his wife Tove, a clear-cut open design full of light, which unfortunately was never built. Impressed by Ólafsson's work, Juhl bought his architectonic Children at Play, and borrowed other pieces to display with his furniture as demonstrated in photographs from the period. Still another facet of their collaboration took place in the exhibition 13 Artists in a Tent in Bellevue in 1941, where Ólafsson showed his exceptional wooden piece Man and Woman - now in KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg. The Tent show was a unique experiment where a few of the most prominent Danish contemporary avant-garde artists joined in the provocative setting of a tent placed in a fairy ground close to a popular summar resort outside Copenhagen. The exhibition design was made by Finn Juhl, who in this public confrontation of an amusement park and avant-garde art, demonstrated his way of thinking design with sculpture by exploring its realness in simplicity of nature and light.

Curators: Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir and Birgitta Spur.