An ever growing cultural hub
Through the years, the city of Herning has been strongly influenced by trade and industry, shaping the rapid development of this central Jutland hub while also steeping it in a rich cultural legacy that remains vibrant today. In the 1930s, Herning first began to attract attention with its booming textile industry, spreading out among several textile mills and smaller sewing shops around Herning, the most famous being Aage Damgaard’s iconic shirt factory, Angli, and Mads Eg Damgaard’s Ege Carpets. The textile industry became a major contributor to Herning’s identity and economic prosperity, and today it remains firmly embedded in Herning’s cultural history. For example, the architecture of HEART – Herning Museum of Contemporary Art is designed to convey an impression of draped shirt sleeves, its façades treated to resemble textiles, all as an affectionate reference to Herning’s textile industry – the industry that built the basis for the museum.
During the heyday of the textile industry, Herning began to also establish itself as a city of culture and art. Deeply fascinated by art, Aage Damgaard did not let his position as director of the shirt factory prevent him from living that dream; quite the contrary, the factory become one of the places where the dream was made real. Damgaard invited numerous young contemporary artists to Herning, promising them free reins creatively and financially. The one proviso was that the art they created there must go to Damgaard’s own collection. Artists such as Piero Manzoni, Robert Jacobsen, Paul Gadegaard, Svend Wiig Hansen, Sven Dalsgaard and Carl-Henning Pedersen came to Herning to create art, making Herning one of Denmark’s most progressive cities on the contemporary art scene in the 1950s and 1960s. The Angli Factory in itself also made quite an impression on the people of Herning: painted a deep black with coloured windows by Paul Gadegaard, it was a spectacular sight; one that many locals found rather hard to stomach. When asked by a local Herning resident what the point of this horrible black building could possibly be, Damgaard replied, ‘Well, you know, when you’ve got a lot of leftover paint on your hands, it would be a waste of money to throw it away!’. That sort of thrifty practicality resonated with the general mentality of Herning, a city of commerce, growth and common sense.
In addition to the art associated with Damgaard and Birk Centerpark, Herning is also home to no less than three buildings designed by the world-renowned architect Jørn Utzon, who famously designed the Sydney Opera House. The two most notable are the Utzon building in Birk Centerpark, right next to HEART, and the iconic Utzon- designed petrol station clearly visible from Dronningens Boulevard. Being the fourth largest city in the Central Denmark Region, Herning is also a popular destination, attracting thousands of visitors to its vibrant city centre and central Jutland’s largest shopping centre, Herningcenteret. Art and culture are never far away in Herning: the main shopping street, reserved for pedestrians, is paved with beautiful, geometric granite surfaces, and the entire city is full of intriguing works of art, ranging from small sculptures along the high street to vast, spectacular works like Elia in Birk Centerpark. This heady mix of dynamic development and deep roots in the traditions of Danish market towns is what makes Herning a modern city rich in culture – and the perfect host for the Socle du Monde biennale.
For more information on Herning City click here (Danish only)