Asger Jorn

The Open Hide

May 5 - July 29, 2016

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 5th, 6-8pm

35 E 67th Street

Petzel Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by Danish artist Asger Jorn (1914-1973). This is the first US-based solo show dedicated exclusively to Jorn’s work since an exhibition at New York’s André Emmerich Gallery in 1993.

“An Asger Jorn can be garish, florid, tasteless, forced, cute, flatulent, overemphatic; it can never be vulgar.” The words of art historian T.J. Clark, writing in 1994, came two years after he commented at an art history conference that Asger Jorn was “the greatest painter of the 1950s.” Although to make this claim, Clark shifted the highpoint of Jorn’s work to that decade, it remained an assertion that surprised his audience: could Jorn, a relatively unknown Dane, compete with the likes of Pollock and his American contemporaries?

It is easy to doubt Clark’s statement, given the American unfamiliarity of Jorn’s work: though exhibited from the 1960s at Lefebre Gallery, until its closing in the 1980s, there has only been one retrospective of Jorn’s in a major New York institution—The Guggenheim Museum, 1982-83. However Clark’s judgment questions an accepted system of values entangled in cold war politics that propelled an enduring, art historical narrative that lionized the New York school of abstraction.

For Jorn, who was aligned with the CoBrA movement and later the Situationist International, art was an expression of life, of activism, of an unedited freedom not confined to studio practice. Over a diverse and multifaceted career spanning 50 years, Jorn’s work attests not only to this belief, but also to a practice permeated with excesses. Notwithstanding, Jorn’s association with the CoBrA movement ultimately pigeonholed the artist potentially to his detriment.

It is of course impossible for one small exhibition to move the art historical status quo; it would be equally futile to try to represent the full breadth of Asger Jorn’s work with just a couple of dozen exhibits. Nevertheless The Open Hide is intended to be a small step in ameliorating the repressed significance of Asger Jorn. The exhibition encompasses approximately twenty works (oil on canvas, gouache on paper and lithographs) made between 1943 (“Losko”) and 1971, including examples from important series such as “Modifications,” as well as archival material. Many of these works are not only new to New York, but have not been seen in Europe for many years.

Petzel Gallery, New York, has published an accompanying catalog to this exhibition featuring over seventy-five images. The Open Hide, a publication edited by Roberto Ohrt and Axel Heil, features a comprehensive biography of Asger Jorn, archive material and complete provenance, exhibition and literature information. The book is available to purchase here.

Petzel Gallery is located at 35 East 67th Street between Park and Madison Avenues on the third floor. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

For press inquiries, please contact Janine Latham at janine@petzel.com, or call (212) 680-9467.


Download Press Release (PDF 485 K)


  • 1 / 34
    Untitled (Phoenix)
    1949/1950
    Oil on Masonite
    24 x 18.5 inches
  • 2 / 34
    Portrait: Signora Albissola
    1957
    Ripolin and oil on paper on Masonite
    59.4 x 39.4 inches
  • 3 / 34
    Le Hollandais Volant (The Flying Dutchman)
    1959
    Oil on board over an earlier painting (modification)
    19.9 x 39 inches
  • 4 / 34
    Portrait of Odilon Redon
    1958
    Oil on canvas
    43.3 x 31.9 inches
  • 5 / 34
    Oriental Fire | Sanoyara
    1958
    Oil on canvas
    39.4 x 31.9 inches
  • 6 / 34
    Le Destin s‘ecrase (Destiny's Egress)
    1962
    Oil on canvas
    23.8 x 28.5 inches
  • 7 / 34
    Animaux animé(s) (Animated Animals) (recto)
    1944/46
    Oil on canvas
    29.2 x 39 inches
  • 8 / 34
    Untitled (verso)
    1944/46
    Oil on canvas
    29.2 x 39 inches
  • 9 / 34
    Acteur en Action (Actor in Action)
    1967
    Oil on canvas
    25.6 x 21.3 inches
  • 10 / 34
    Green Language
    1962
    Oil on canvas
    23.6 x 28.8 inches
  • 11 / 34
    La Caresse Atroce (Atrocious Embrace) / (The Fiendish Caress)
    1960
    Oil on canvas
    39.4 x 31.9 inches
  • 12 / 34
    Untitled (Faces in a Head)
    ca. 1960
    Oil on fiberboard
    19.7 x 27.6 inches
  • 13 / 34
    Jungle Drama (Drama i junglen)
    1952
    Oil on Masonite
    31.5 x 35.8 inches
  • 14 / 34
    Untitled
    1971
    Gouache on paper, mounted on canvas
    18.7 x 14 inches
  • 15 / 34
    Untitled
    1968
    Oil on canvas
    13 x 19.5 inches
  • 16 / 34
    Das Offene Versteck (The Open Hiding Place)
    1970
    Lithograph in colors on smooth paper
    40.6 x 55.3 inches
  • 17 / 34
    Bird Observing a Flock of Dumbuggers: Naughty Picture, No. 3
    (Fugl der iagttager en flok pjatterøve: uartige billeder Nr. 3A)

    1955
    Oil on canvas
    21.6 x 18.1 inches
  • 18 / 34
    Couple amoureux interplanétaire (Lovers in Outer Space)
    1954
    Oil on panel
    35.8 x 37.8 inches
  • 19 / 34
    Le Future du passé (The Future of the Past)
    1971
    Woodcut in colors
    29.5 x 21.7 inches
  • 20 / 34
    Rodt Lys (Red Light)
    1960
    Oil on canvas
    25.6 x 21.3 inches
  • 21 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 1
    2016
  • 22 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 2
    2016
  • 23 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 3
    2016
  • 24 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 4
    2016
  • 25 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 5
    2016
  • 26 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 6
    2016
  • 27 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 7
    2016
  • 28 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 8
    2016
  • 29 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 9
    2016
  • 30 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 10
    2016
  • 31 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 11
    2016
  • 32 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 12
    2016
  • 33 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 13
    2016
  • 34 / 34
    Asger Jorn
    The Open Hide
    Installation view 14
    2016
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This book was published on the occasion of the exhibition Asger Jorn, The Open Hide, at Petzel Gallery, 35 E 67th Street, New York
May 5 - July 29, 2016

Texts, captions, and biography by Axel Heil and Roberto Ohrt
"Sale 4 Soul" by Axel Heil and Roberto Ohrt

Published by Petzel, New York

© 2016 by Petzel and the authors

ISBN 978-0-9863230-7-2