The Avant-garde Will Never Change Its Spots, 1996, by Felix Gmelin |
After an unknown artist and Asger Jorn (1962) Oil on polyester, 61 x 74 cm
In 1949, Asger Jorn, the Danish artist and initiator of COBRA, an international group of artists and poets, incited his colleagues to begin reworking older pieces of art. Jorn himself went down to the Paris flea markets, where he would find old paintings like this unsigned portrait of a girl with a skipping-rope - which he then 'improved.'
It was Jorn's view that the works of the old masters needed touching up. Referring to his 'Department for the Improvement of Old Canvases,' Jorn writes:
'We propose in the name of COBRA to improve old canvases, collections and entire museums. I have already begun with pieces by Raphael, Monet, Braque and Dali. The last two are the best. I urge you to do the same, above all with Mondrian and the most highly esteemed Renaissance classics, and in such a way that the original picture remains visible through the smudge...
What I suggest is that we, in our way, paint over the pictures to preserve their actuality and to help them from falling into oblivion.'
Source: Troels Andersson Asger Jorn, en biografi, Copenhagen, 1994