Bjørn Nørgaard

Biography of Bjørn Nørgaard

Bjørn Nørgaard (b. 1947) is one of the most influential artists to have come out of Denmark in the last century. In 1970, he famously slaughtered a horse and dissected it into small pieces, which he then put into hundreds of jam jars. The work, unsurprisingly controversial and hotly debated, brought attention to the famine and war crises that were claiming lives across Africa and Asia at the time and barely being reported on in Denmark.


While his performative works have left their mark in art history, Bjørn Nørgaard is perhaps best known for his sculpture. Combining found objects, concrete, marble, ceramics and glass, he creates historically informed works that address current social issues. Classical sculpture in particular is of primary importance to Nørgaard, and references to it appear throughout his oeuvre. Creating multiples has also been vital to his artistic practice as a means of exploring consumerism and mass production in our contemporary culture. In Recycling Art, dozens of classical-style sculptures are dumped into industrially made recycling bins. The work is humorous, but the message is not, as is often the case with his work.


Bjørn Nørgaard’s interest in history and his valuable contribution to the discourse of contemporary art made him the ideal choice for a commission by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark on the occasion of her 50th birthday. His series of 11 tapestries documenting the history of Denmark can be found today in the great hall at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen.


Bjørn Nørgaard represented Denmark at EXPO 2000 as well as at the Venice Biennale in 1980, and participated in the 4th Istanbul Biennial and the Biennale of Sydney. He was professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1985 to 93. He has had solo and group exhibitions across the globe, including at the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, The National Gallery of Denmark, the National Museum of Mali and the Aros Aarhus Art Museum in Denmark.

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