Frede Christoffersen dedicated his art to the sun. For over 40 years, he painted it over and over again. Among other things, by staring directly into it. According to art historian Guri Skygge Andersen, Frede Christoffersen was a loner for many reasons.
Frede Christoffersen spent 40 years painting the sun, examining its light and how it affects colors. He really went to work as a nerd, and that makes him an exciting artist.
As a young man, he became preoccupied with the sun after experiencing the sun's light very intensely during a voyage on the Mediterranean. His series of sun images are almost like scientific studies in which he paints the sun over and over again. And he notes in the titles of the pictures that it is a kind of records with a certain time of day or year.
Here in the big picture Evening there is a vitality to the colour, so we sense how the sun pulsates and glows. And it's not a traditional, naturalistic depiction of a sunset, but a very personal experience. His approach was such that he first looked directly at the sun and let the light affect his eyes. Then he closed his eyes and observed the colorful afterimages he saw for his inner gaze. You probably know the shapes and colors that occur if you have looked intensely into some light.
So the painting here is not just a sunset. It is Frede Christoffersen's sensation of the evening sun's light and the afterimages that the sun formed on his retina.
Frede Christoffersen (1919-87)
Material: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 90 x 149 cm
Acquisition: Bequest 1984 from Erik C. Mengel
It may be because he artistically falls between two stools. He followed two major currents in Danish art, but without really belonging to any of them.
On the one hand, he nerded vision and color theories. And he composed his images tightly from geometric shapes. It connected with the concrete art as with Richard Winther for example.
On the other hand, he also based his images on self-experienced, intuitive sensations of nature. And he did not hold back with clear brushstrokes and thick coats of paint. In that sense, his work was reminiscent of the abstract expressionists for whom Asger Jorn was a leading figure, among other things.
The two schools were filled with contradictions. And when art historians have subsequently described them, he is smoked out because he did not quite fit into some of the places.
By falling between two stools, he also became unique. Completely his own. In addition to being a super colorist, the long series of sun images can be perceived as one large and thorough artistic study. It is amazing that there is an artist who has been painting the sun over and over again for 40 years. He should be better known for that. Just as Johannes Larsen is known for painting birds.
Fuglsang Kunstmuseum owns 27 works by Frede Christoffersen, especially painting and graphics. The graphic works were collected in the 1960s and 1970s, where there was a lot of focus on providing quality art on paper for the museum. On the other hand, most of the paintings are part of a large testamentary gift from office manager Erik C. Mengel in 1984. Together, the works provide a strong insight into the work of a very distinctive artist. Incidentally, one of his painted evening paintings is from the protected nature area Skejten near Fuglsang, which many artists have portrayed over the past more than 100 years.
Please note that the work is not necessarily exhibited in the museum.
Guri Skygge Andersen is an art historian and art educator. On a daily basis, she is responsible for the museum’s department of learning and education.
Note: Danish only