A revered and renowned artist, Sven Dalsgaard (1914–99) was not only a skilled painter, but also a sculptor and poet. Over the course of his artistic career he navigated many different artistic directions and modes of expression. He is best known for his chair sculptures, blue wrappings, monochrome paintings and paintings of the Danish flag. A prominent figure on the Danish art scene for several decades, Dalsgaard ceaselessly tried his hand at various Danish and international currents in art, reflecting his keenly honed feel for new trends from around the world. As a very young artist, his works were naturalistic, and he also worked with abstract painting. However, he was strongly inspired by Surrealism. In 1942 he had his first exhibition in Copenhagen, and in 1943 he made his debut at Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling/The Artists’ Autumn Exhibition. That same year also saw him have his debut as a poet.
Dalsgaard and Damgaard
Like the Italian artist Piero Manzoni, whom Dalsgaard met during a stay in Herning, the essential thing for Dalsgaard was the idea behind the work, while the materials and methods used were less important. Painting continued to be part of his practice, but more as an object in its own right rather than as a carrier of images, and the medium was subjected to all sorts of investigations. His paintings often feature words and inscriptions, and various objects might also be added to them. The 1960s also saw him beginning to wrap objects and to work thematically with chair sculptures and paintings of the Danish flag. Like Manzoni, Sven Dalsgaard was acquainted with Aage Damgaard, who employed Dalsgaard to create art in Herning. His time there would prove highly influential on Dalsgaard’s subsequent art.
A unique influence on Danish art history
Sven Dalsgaard was a persistent innovator, but despite several style changes his art remained deeply personal and uncompromising. His artistic career was consistently active, building a large oeuvre. Leaving a prominent mark Danish art history, he had a significant impact on many younger artists. From 1973 to 1979 he was a visiting professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, becoming part of the institution he himself had opted out of as a young man.