Tuesday, April 03, 2007

One Of Art's Greatest Secrets

95. Female Figure. A Fragment.1904, plaster.

A note of explanation

Chris Millers site of 20 C figure sculpture started me off with this blog, so I must get back again to the business in hand.

Please forgive the enthusiasm I have for this Sculptor, but I am somewhat incensed at the low profile he seems to have in the world.

It seems difficult to believe that so gifted a sculptor, putting Michelangelo and Rodin in the shade, who was almost as prolific as Vigeland and twice as talented, should not have a Wikipedia listing in English.

Is it beyond belief that such an amazing Artist can be almost completely buried by the 20 century? I genuinely believe that history will eventually exalt him above his peers and place him firmly in the highest echelons of the greatest sculptors of all time.

It must be said that I do not speak his language, nor can I find much written about him in English so I am in a privileged position, seeing each work without prejudice; purely as sculpture, without history or “reason d’etre”. I can be objective about the subject matter of his works and the messages he may have been attempting to express. It seems that he was married and we know what he looks like and that he worked in France for a time.

It must be said I do not like everything that any one artist may have produced. Rembrandt, my great two dimensional hero, produced some stuff that I do not warm to despite its technical brilliance. Indeed some of my new found friend’s work I find very bizarre and I will happily allow it to stay in a museum for others to go "weak at the knees" at.

This area of the world has produced some fine sculptors, many have been relegated to second stream quite unjustly but this gentleman’s obscurity is a National disgrace, no, International disgrace. Kept under raps or just not “found”, I wonder?

Ok so what’s so wonderful about him that you are making such a fuss Mileham you may ask?

Principally it is the skill in which he portrays the dialogue between his figures. Even in his solo figures it is the body language, the pathos, the drama, which he communicates to us which is so astounding. It is also the accuracy of anatomy without the “ruled straight line” syndrome of a life caste, which makes his works so appealing and believable. The magic is present even in the cyber world of his Museum’s website, so intimate, so real and kenetic.

Dear me, from the French again: here is a “soupçon” in honour of

Mr. Rudolph Tegners of Denmark 1873 to 1950

The excellent photos are by Finn Christoffersen and borrowed from The Rudolph Tengers Museum website found here:


This is how I love to see a work progress,


30. Tones, 1897, plaster. According to the artist's inventory, the sculpture was created for a competition, and cast three times in bronze.

12. Eva with the Corpse of Abel also called Eve and Abel 1894, plaster.The first sculpture Rudolph Tegner exhibited in Paris, Societe National des Beaux Arts, Champ-de-Mars 1894.

140. My Wife Elna, also called The Artist´s Wife 1917, bronze. Full-figure portrait of Elna Tegner (1889-1976, née Jørgensen) , the artist' s wife, seated. Placed in front of the museum before 1955.

224. Victory 1921, bronze, plaster.

54. Satan, 1899, bronze.

Pan again

94. Pan 1904, fired clay.

98. Toward the Light, 1904, plaster. I recommend you visit this page on his website as there are a variety of different versions of it which are both of academic interest as well as further proof of his genius. http://www.tegnersvenner.dk/eftertid_d/pics_236.htm

111. Toward the Light, 1909, plaster. The final version of the monument to the famous Danish physician Niels Finsen (1860-1904). Erected in bronze at the crossing Blegdamsvej/Tagensvej, Copenhagen, on August 23, 1910.


87. Oedipus Appears, also called King Oedipus 1904, fired clay.

82. King Oedipus and Antigone1903, plaster.

King Oedipus Taking Leave of his Daughters, 1904, plaster.

50. Earthbound, 1899, plaster.

Earthbound1899, plaster. The upper part of the sculpture has been broken.

57. Sepulchral Monument to the Artist’s Mother 1899, plaster.
Sepulchral monument to Signe Elisabeth Tegner (1847-1899, née Puggaard) erected in bronze at Elsinore Cemetery. Stands in marble in Triest, Italy, in memory of one of architect Hummel's relatives. Carl Jacobsen had the monument erected in marble at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, in memory of his wife. In plaster at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.

200. Hercules and the Hydra1918, also in bronze with a green patina 201. Hercules and the Hydra.

There is a Danish documentary film on him, details at


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Blogger broadwaybabe said...

i simply love these

11:56 pm  
Blogger Susanna said...

If you are in-fact the Birthday Robert, then happy birthday!!!!! I hope all your dreams come true this year and may you sculpt lots and lots of interesting people and things.

If its not your birthday, then happy un birthday!

Tomorrow my studies will be through for the week and I am looking forward to looking at these statues in more detail. The first is incredible. That model must have suffered for the beauty.

5:46 pm  
Blogger MB said...

So much beauty to be found here! I shall have to go on an explore...

Thank you for stopping by and for your birthday wish. You remembered correctly, and I quoted from that delightful crocodile poem in my response to you.

6:33 pm  
Blogger Blue Genes said...

Amazing, indeed. I especially like the ones where a human figure is emerging from (or penetrating into) another surface.

1:35 am  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...


And super-wow for the woman entering/disappearing into the rock/tree (tree? hard to say).

What an uplift on a tired and somewhat cranky Friday dawn.


12:22 pm  
Blogger Erik said...

Thank you Robert for this mini-exhibition in pictures. I'm looking forward for your comment on my post about what is art and what has photography to do with it. At the moment I'm busy with work and family things but in a few days I give proper attention to it when I can concentrate.

Happy Easter to you and "yours".

1:12 pm  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...

I'll have to come back and look at these again, Robert. Some are models, I take it. Some I can identify the references, some not. Wish you had a list of titles and materials.

3:57 pm  
Blogger Nabeel said...

Robert my friend Robert :) .. I see the sculpture .. fully clothed and sitting in an elegant pose .. tells me soo much about the lady .. one thing I know fro sure that it's not a woman but lady (not every woman is a lady) .. marvelous work.

6:24 am  
Blogger chris miller said...

Robert -- I'm so grateful that you've shown all these pictures -- but --- how can I say this ? -- I hate this guy !

O.K.--- that's an exaggeration -- but they do feel awfully morbid -- overwrought to me -- except for -- curiously enough -- the five broken figures who are carrying the highly stylized corpse.

That's the one that brings me joy --- the rest just seem creepy --- like that exhibit of plasticized bodies that's been such a big hit in Chicago recently

Following my recent theory --- that there's no such thing as bad sculpture --just sculpture in the wrong place --- these things belong in a mausoleum (which I would like to visit --- but only after funerals)

12:52 am  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...


Is that theory tenable? I can't make it work for poems, say!

6:54 am  
Blogger Erik said...

Reading your explanation I was surprised that you put Rodin and Michelango in his shadow, but having a closer look at the sculptures I have the unpleasant feeling that you might be right. I had the same experience with the Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865 - 1935)when visiting an exhibition of his work in Groningen (see my blog). I think it's the Scandinavian character, they live a little in the corner of Europe, you can better work in France to get recognition. What would have become of Van Gogh if he had stayed in the Netherlands? I think also that artists have to be assessed in the context of their time. Whoever will produce art according to medieval standards nowadays, will never get recognition. A 20th century artist has the support of his 19th century predecessors on which he is building further. I still owe to you a picture of the marble sculpture in the town hall of Baarn, where I used to work, but this could never have been made without the preparatory pioneer work of Renaissance artists. You know better than I do, that Art Nouveau and Jugendstil yielded many artists focusing on human postures, I think Tegners is one of the top artists of this period. Am I wrong when I suppose that you also work in this tradition more or less? I also admire this style but you know, these days you aren't supposed to if want to keep up with the Jones.

10:42 am  
Blogger Robert said...

Until recently the anthem for my work has been
“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery” Jane Austen.
However I could never imagine life without Shakespeare’s , Hamlet , Othello and Romeo & Juliet. Some of us have to face it, “Tragedy” is part of every day life in reality not just the theatrical stage. I would agree I have chosen some of the more powerfully tragic works in this post, probably because I see Tegner’s genius at its best here. As with Verdi and Mozart who produced light and witty works, the “darker” ones are arguably their best. After Erik‘s discussion on Faust recently I was reminded of Marlow’s play “Dr. Faustus” which in my opinion, is one of the most profoundly important plays in English of all time. (I am sure Corad will have something to say on that!)
Some of Tenger’s lighter works are good but the subject matter carries less emotional weight. I will post the ones I mean on my next post. You will have noted that I avoided putting any titles or comments for these works. This is because there is little information available in English and because I wanted it to be viewed “blind” if you see what I mean, without guidance, not just so those who were excited would look further but for them to form their own opinion, unsullied by me. I would agree the story of King Oedipus is hardly a jolly one, nor for that matter his mother’s memorial, his interpretation of “Fortune” and the rest here.
I enjoy reading your comments on Far Eastern “letters” and intrigued by “guidance “ on paintings that Gawain has chosen- essentially for “the wit”. For Tegner, I am not sure that wit is appropriate and I perhaps this is why you are not so enamoured by him. If we look at Michelangelo’s best work I think you would agree that the works of tragedy could be felt more powerful in terms of “Art”: the expression of emotion. Try this test with Taft and many others. Of course it would be fun to own a Clodion
and to live in a baroque Elysium but in the appreciation of the Artist I think this guy had it.

11:03 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

I know exactly what you are saying. Really great art is timeless. History will judge. To that there is not answer!

11:10 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

Its been a very long week-end! Blogging has been banned by the family. Back again now though.

Chris is right in one respect that these works are not exactly rejoicing in the “Joy of Life”. I will however add a few titles as finding them on the Tegners website is time consuming to say the least.

Hope you all had a lovely Easter.

Thank you all for the Birthday wishes, yes it is now past!!

11:20 pm  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...

No, don't look for them then!

I am feeling quite tickled after meeting the irascible Chris on several blogs in a row...

4:49 am  
Blogger Blue Genes said...

Well then happy belated birthday, Robert.

4:54 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

Thanks for this marvellous post.

You have opened my eyes to a truly great sculptor.

Perhaps you found the navigation on the website OK, but I found that the image gallery was almost completely broken, and I had to resort to renumbering the pages in the address bar to see anything but the first page you referred to.

Maybe the amount of traffic that you've sent their way caused it to get børked ♫

Painful, but worth it.

6:28 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

Michael welcome,
I do hope that the website is still working. It would be a terrible shame if it crashed.

It seems to be working OK at present. I plan to put some more pictures up soon.

10:16 pm  

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