0039 Challenging the Precepts of Modernism: The Late Work of J. F. Willumsen

  • Anne Gregersen (Author)
    University of Copenhagen / J.F. Willumsen Museum Frederikssund

    Art historian from the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen and Université Paris X Nanterre. From 2011-2014 PhD student via a grant from the New Carlsberg Foundation at the University of Copenhagen and at the J.F. Willumsen Museum in Frederikssund with a project about the late works of Willumsen. The research is centered around a historiographical examination of the notion of modernism in a Danish context and the position of Willumsen herein and proposes new readings of his late works. Co-curator of an exhibition connected to the PhD project at the J.F. Willumsen Museum and at ZKM Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe with late, figurative works by Julian Schnabel, Francis Picabia and J.F. Willumsen taking place 2013-14.

Identifiers (Article)


The late work of the Danish artist J. F. Willumsen (1863-1958) has until recently largely been marginalized and deemed kitsch, of poor quality and "odd". As opposed to the canonization of his earlier work, the period 1930-1958 has been difficult to "digest" and increasingly written off in Danish art history. This article takes a closer look at the late work, the reception of it by Willumsen's contemporaries and the artist's own claims about it. Furthermore, the article proposes to relate the status of the work to its resistance to notions that have become the precepts of modernism such as progression, irreversibility and defined "isms". The challenging of these notions is also found in the phenomenon of "Bad Painting" that has been presented and genealogized mainly through a number of exhibitions the last years. The article suggests to associate the work to this phenomenon.


J.F. Willumsen, bad painting, modernism