AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL KROGSGAARD
GEORG JENSEN SOCIETY
1. You are the Chairman of the Georg Jensen Society (GJS). What does the GJS do and how did you become involved in it?The GJS was formed in 2000. The initiative was taken by Liv Caroe (a grandchild of Georg Jensen) and myself (I am married to Pia Georg Jensen – another grandchild). We had the founding meeting on April 24, 2000. The idea was to have an organization that was purely interested in Georg Jensen, the man, and his life's work and would protect the legacy of Georg Jensen and educate the public about Jensen and his accomplishments. . We found it very difficult to find publications or organizations that gave Georg Jensen, personally, the credit that he deserved. The best book on his life (by Walter Schwartz, 1958) was published by Georg Jensen & Wendel, which was owned by Georg Jensen’s 3rd wife’s family. In the introduction to that book it states that the book ends in 1918, when the 3rd wife died. That left his last 17 years, when he was still very active, unexplored.
Most of what has been published about Georg Jensen has been written for commercial reasons and is not necessarily accurate, which is a shame since Georg Jensen’s personal history is very interesting and his personal artistic influence is enormous. For example, in the 1990s, the Georg Jensen company used one of his engagement photos from 1907, in which he looked extremely slim and handsome, and replaced the picture of his wife with a young model of the 1990s. Ib Georg Jensen (Georg Jensen’s youngest child with his 4th wife) objected to the use of this and other photos and to the use of his father's signature in advertisements. When negotiations failed, he sued the company. The trial resulted in a verdict which prevents the company from using Georg Jensen’s personal signature and certain private photos. Although the family won their case, this experience demonstrated the need for an independent society to safeguard Georg Jensen's legacy.
The board consists of 4 family members and 3 persons who are not necessarily related to Georg Jensen. This structure was designed to guarentee that the main interest of the Society would remain the person, Georg Jensen.
The Society is run solely on a hobby basis. We have the annual general assembly on August 31 each year whih is Georg Jensen’s birthday. At each meeting we have a topic related to Georg Jensen. For example, three years ago we had the meeting at the Palace Hotel. We had a lecture on Georg Jensen’s work and a guided tour of the hotel. Another time, we went to Raadvad (Georg Jensen’s birthplace and a great inspiration for his art) and organized a guided tour there. We have visited a silversmithy that is run in the same way as the original Georg Jensen smithy on Bredgade in Copenhagen.
We also publish Georg Jensen Magazine (No. 2 is coming out shortly). And we involve ourselves in exhibition activities, like the exhibition at Øregaard Museum (2004) and at the Maison de Danemark in Paris (2004). We are now working on an exhibition in Miami about “Personal Georg Jensen” and an exhibition in Denmark about Georg Jensen and his 3 artistic sons (Jørgen, Søren and Ib).
2. Can you tell us more about the 2004 centennial Georg Jensen exhibition in Denmark. I understand there was a catalogue produced in connection with the exhibit. Can you tell us about that?We decided in 2000 that we would open an exhibition in 2004 which is the 100-year’s anniversary of the Georg Jensen silversmithy. We started working very hard on this in early 2003, trying to dig up items that would shed light on Georg Jensen’s more unknown sides: his sculptures, his ceramics, his terracotta, his very early items in silver, his Paris time (1924-6) and the last 10 years of his life when he designed a large number of items that were only made in one or few copies in his private silversmithy. We were fortunate to get a very positive response from the Øregaard Museum, which is situated a few hundred meters from the home Georg Jensen lived in from the early years of the silversmithy until his death in 1935.
Security was a major concern, as the Oregaard Museum exhibits paintings and drawings for the most part and our exhibit consisted of other kinds of pieces. We spent a lot of time solving this problem, and in the end, we were successful since we had no robberies, and the other Georg Jensen exhibition at the State Museum of Art was robbed.
We were also successful at “digging up” a number of previously unknown items, and we worked with Jens Jørgen Frimand, a specialist in Anton Rosen (the architect of The Palace Hotel) to create a room for the exhibition on the collaboration between Georg Jensen and Anton Rosen.
In the course of creating the exhibition we had a great collaboration with the Ehlers Samling and Varde Museums and The Museum of Decorative Art in Copenhagen and with Kirstine Jørgensen (who is a specialist on Ipsen Terracotta) on rooms about Georg Jensen’s ceramic works and his models for Ipsen’s Terracotta Factory.
The exhibition provided us with the opportunity to catalogue Georg Jensen’s exhibition activities between 1889 and 1904, his works for Ipsen and his work with Anton Rosen. Since this had never been done before I think the exhibition added important information about Georg Jensen’s work. The catalogue was a joint effort. I wrote most of the text with supplements from Jens Jørgen Frimand and a german PhD student, Maria Damm. Liv Carøe designed the catalog. It was printed in Danish and English versions, and in connection with the exhibition in Paris (September-November 2004) it was published in French as well. It is still available from the Society.
3. How many of Georg Jensen's children are still alive and what do they do? Are any of his grand children involved in the Society? Are any artists?Mette Georg Kjeldsen (born 1921) and Ib Georg Jensen (born 1927) who are children of Georg Jensen and his 4th wife Agnes are alive and retired. Mette was a ballet dancer and Ib was a ceramicist. Most of the family attends the GJS meetings and many are involved at different levels in the work of the Society. The Board consists of Liv Carøe (daughter of Ib), Lone Harding (grandchild of Jørgen Jensen), Ellis Tauber-Lassen (grandchild of Vibeke, Georg Jensen’s 3rd child with his 2nd wife), Morten Møller Georg Jensen (grandchild of Ib) and myself (married to a daughter of Ib) (I know that this makes 5 family members – Morten is an associate member). Silversmith Mogens Bjørn-Andersen (Bornholm, Denmark) and Caryl & Harold Unger (Miami, Florida) are the “professional” members of the board.
4. Is your work with the Georg Jensen society your full time job? What else do you do?I am an orthopedic surgeon. Society work is only a hobby for all of us.
5. I understand you also wrote a book about Bob Dylan? Tell me about that? How did you become involved in that subject?I have been fascinated by Bob Dylan since the mid-1960s and started collecting unpublished material in 1969-70. To structure Bob Dylan’s production (from a discographical point of view) I published a reference book “Twenty Years of Recording” in 1981. In 1990 I published an updated, much enlarged edition “Master of the tracks”, and in 1991 “Positively Bob Dylan” with an American publisher. In the mid 1990s I was allowed to go through a lot of material at Sony Archives and at other places, giving a completely new insight to Bob Dylan’s recorded works. I published information about this in a series of articles in “The Telegraph”, “The Bridge” and “Look Back” (all magazines about Bob Dylan). It has been my plan to revise the reference book for many years, but I haven’t had the time. I hope to do a book on “Bob Dylan’s Columbia Studio Recordings” this year.
In many ways I think Bob Dylan and Georg Jensen are alike. The art of each is rooted in the basic values of our world and they manage to express images and feelings in an extraordinarily simple and clear way, that all people can find meaningful. They also have great plasticity in their work, so the “audience” can continue to shape the beautiful design lines or expressions in their own minds, making it their own.
6. Where do you live?In the center of Copenhagen.
An email interview conducted with Alice Kossoff in June, 2006.
MORE ABOUT THE GEORG JENSEN SOCIETY HERE