Aksel Karl Jorgenson Biography

Aksel Karl Jorgenson




Printmaker, painter, and educator Aksel Jorgenson (commonly spelled Jorgensen) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 3, 1883. He attended Frede Aamodt's private art school where he befriended artist Carl Jensen and became interested in the newly emerging genre, Impressionism. An apt student, he was technically gifted as well as creative, and was known for his deftly rendered figures and landscapes.

Jorgenson first participated in an exhibition in 1908 at the Kunstnernes Efterarsudstilling (now Die Frei Udstilling), an artists' association formed in repsonse to the strict and staid requirements for exhibiting at Kunsthalle Charlottenborg. He also became a member of the De Tretten group at this time, in which Danish Modernists curated and operated their own shows at various galleries, cafes, and more, finding little support in traditional institutions. He worked primarily in oils and woodengraving, choosing subject matter in his early career focused on the destitute, the working class, sex workers, and other people generally overlooked by Copenhagen's upperclass society. His exhibitions, whether solo or with De Tretten, often attracted attention from the press due to his controversial works; this did not temper his popularity, however, and he was commissioned to create several series of engravings by art collectors and publishers.

In addition to his professional art career, Jorgenson was a dedicated promoter of graphic art techniques as part of the fine art wheelhouse. After taking a post as professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1920 he worked tirelessly to to develope its first graphic arts program. This would establish the school as a magnet for illustrators and printmakers, many of whom would go on to have internationally successful careers. In 1926 Jorgenson was knighted by the Order of Dannebrog, later becoming Commander of the Second Degree in 1943, and in 1941 he was awarded the Thorvaldsen Medal for his painting, Prositution. He died in Copenhagen on June 9, 1957.