An artist ahead of his time

An artist ahead of his time

Jens Ferdinand Willumsen created a huge collection of expressionist paintings, sculptures and other artworks in his 70-year-long career, spanning the late 1880s to the 1950s.

He was exhibited throughout Denmark, was co-founder of Denmark’s oldest association of artists, and caused a stir on the Scandinavian art scene.

And yet, it was only after a drawn-out, hard-fought struggle that the municipality of Frederikssund accepted the donation of his life’s works in exchange for a museum in his honour.

Today, the J. F. Willumsen Museum attracts visitors from across the world.

Throughout his life, Willumsen marched to the beat of his own drum. Although he was an important and well-known artist,

An artist ahead of his time he struggled with acceptance in Denmark and felt misunderstood throughout his career;

An artist ahead of his time a feeling hardly made better by his long struggle to be recognised with a museum.

Finally, in 1957, his wish was granted, and the construction of the J. F.

Willumsen Museum was given the green light in Frederikssund, 40 minutes by train from Copenhagen.

The artist passed away a year later but his extensive art collection, featuring 7,000 objects, is still thriving and the museum’s visitor numbers increase every year.

The permanent exhibition Willumsen’s World explores the artist’s place in his own and our time.

“Willumsen’s work seems very contemporary,” says museum curator Louise Bugge Jacobsen.

“The collection is so extensive that there’s always a new angle to approach him from.”

His colourful style is unique and experimental, but it was firmly built upon his own interest in art history: apart from his own works,

his The Old Collection features 2,000 works by others.

“I think in order to really get a reaction from the established art world, you have to understand the legacy that you’re building upon and challenging,” Bugge Jacobsen explains.

Willumsen certainly got a reaction – his 1891 etching, Fertility, caused a scandal back in Denmark.

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