Johan Kristian Kongstad Biography

Johan Kristian Kongstad




Johan Kristian Kongstad (originally Rasmussen) was born April 9, 1867 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Kongstad was a Danish artist, sculptor, bookmaker and book artist. After having studied painting and attending Technical School, Kongstad studied for several years at the Kunstnernes Studiekolle, where he studied with Frans Schwartz and Kristian Zahrtmann.

In 1892-96, Kongstad exhibited some of his smaller paintings, but gave up early the idea of becoming a painter and decided instead of devoting his energies to the multifaceted arts, especially the woodcut, and later on the production of bibliofile books. In 1894, Kongstad opened the "Atelier for book equipment ",
in Copenhagen, in which he specially practiced hand painted decoration on book bindings and hand painted securities. However, the business floundered, the audience was not yet ready to appreciate this kind of bibliophile refinement.

In 1896 Kongstad settled for a time in Munich, Germany, where he studied the science of color. After some time in Germany, he returned to Denmark and settled in Frederiksværk, where he began to print his woodcuts. In 1897 he designed a small bookshop in his villa in Fredensborg. Some years later, Kongstad moved his small business to Helsingør, but soon sold his book printing materials to another and began a new printing company in Hillerød. It was located in J. Jørgensen & Co.'s Book Printing (Ivar Jantzen) as a special department under the leadership of the City of Copenhagen.

The first font Kongstad created was a "Jensen" from an English scripture. It was an imitation of the French-Italian book of Nicolas Jensen's antique, who had been a model for William Morris' Golden Type and Cobden-Sanderson's "Doves Press Type". Kongstad, - partly with his own publishing house, partly with others - created a number of small books with original drawings and other decorations using woodcut and zinc etching.

At the same time as his self-employed business, Kongstad was an artistic consultant for Gyldendals Forlag, and with painter Poul Sæbye as his assistant, he created  the two parchment transcriptions of the Constitution (1915), which are kept in the Government Council and the Archives of the Riksdag. As a wood cutter, xylographer, Kongstad worked widely in the style of Dürer, Cranach and other master artists, and used various printmaking techniques.

Kristian Kongstad died 24 June 1929 in Holte, Denmake