Wednesday, November 27, 2013

JORN and POLLOCK, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen

Asger Oluf Jorn (3 March 1914 – 1 May 1973) was a Danish painter, sculptor, ceramic artist, and author. He was a founding member of the avant-garde movement COBRA and the Situationist International.. He was born in Vejrum, in the northwest corner of Jutland, Denmark, and baptized Asger Oluf Jørgensen.
The largest collection of Asger Jorn's works—including his major work Stalingrad - can be seen in the Museum Jorn, Silkeborg, Denmark.
Asger Jorn: Letter to my son, 1957
In 1929, aged 15, he was diagnosed with
tuberculosis although he made a recovery from it after spending 3 months on the west coast of Jutland. In 1936 he traveled (on a BSA motorbike he had scraped together enough money to buy) to Paris to become a student of Kandinsky. However when he discovered that Kandinsky was in straitened circumstances, barely able to sell his own paintings, Jorn decided to join Fernand Leger's Academie Contemporaine, it was during this period that he turned away from figurative painting and turned to abstract art. In 1937 he joined le Corbusier in working on the Palais des Temps Noveau at the 1937 Paris Exhibition. From 1937 to 1942, he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen. Jorn  was the first person to translate Franz Kafka into Danish. During the course of his artistic career he produced over 2500 paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculptures, artist's books, collages, décollages, and collaborative tapestries. He died in Aarhus, Denmark on 1 May 1973. He is buried in Grötlingbo, on the island of Gotland in Sweden.

Pollock, nr. 5 1948

Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety, a major artist of his generation. Regarded as reclusive, he had a volatile personality, and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career and on his legacy.
Pollock died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related, single-car accident; he was driving. In December 1956, several months after his death, Pollock was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  in New York City. A larger, more comprehensive exhibition of his work was held there in 1967. In 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale retrospective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate in London. In 2000, Pollock was the subject of the film Pollock, directed by and starring Ed Harris, which won an Academy Award. 

Source: wikipedia

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen has taken a closer look at the work of two outstanding artists with an exhibition Revolutionary Roads. (with 135 works, paintings drawing and prints) From November 15 2013 - February 23 2014. .

Jorn and Pollock never met, but they both  revolutionized painting during and immediately after World War II. They were the same age, one a northern European born in Vejrum, Jutland, the other an American from Cody, Wyoming, in the USA. This exhibition focuses on the period 1943-1963. For both artists there was a ‘before’ this period, and for Jorn also an ‘after’. It was in this period that the two artists’ work was defined and they achieved the greatest international attention.
Some of Jorn’s and Pollock’s works are almost indistinguishable in style. Jorn and Pollock offer us different versions of the routes that the revolution in painting could take, and often what looks identical is really fundamentally different. With his drip technique Pollock changed the rules of the game for painting itself for many people. He staged the artist as the modern hero; he was in the painting, but outside society. Jorn went a different way. For Jorn it was about commitment to the real world, about getting history and the contemporary world into art and a residue of the figurative in his works, a recognizability to which we can relate as viewers.

Jorn is a central figure in Louisiana’s collection and has been presented retrospectively several times, but it is half a century since Pollock’s paintings were last presented at the museum (in 1963). This exhibition shows 135 works, paintings, drawings and prints lent by some of the world’s leading museums and private collections.

The meeting between the works of the two artists has been organized in five thematic sequences, each with its own expression – routes that constantly cross paths: Myths and Mythmakers, Figuration and Abstraction, Abstract Expressionism and What Looks Like It, The Accidental and The Controlled and Jorn & Pollock. Revolutionary Roads. 

Source: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grass Snake/ Snog

Natrix natrix

grass snake, photo: stig bachmann nielsen,

The grass snake ( also called the ringed snake or water snake) is a Eurasian non-venomous snake - and the name natrix is probably derived from the Latin nare or natare "to swim". It is widely distributed in mainland Europe, ranging from mid Scandinavia to southern Italy. It is also found in Middle East and northwestern Africa. British grass snakes belong to the subspecies N. n. helvetica. This species is one of only three snakes to occur in Great Britain, and is distributed throughout lowland areas of England and Wales, it is almost absent from Scotland and is not found in Ireland, which has no native snakes.

The grass snake (Natrix natrix) is one of few snakes in Denmark. The Danish name is: Snog. It is usually black with a lighter underside, the two yellow neck spots are its most important characteristics, but the yellow spots might be absent in some rare cases. The grass snake is recognized from the viper by that its head is evenly into the body and that it has a circular pupil. In Denmark are found grass snakes of ab. 132 cm lenght. The female is averagely longer than the male. (average 100 cm)  The newly hatched young ones look like the adults, but some young snakes might have a zigzag stripe down the front part of the back, and thereby be mistaken for vipers. The grass snake can bite, but it is not poisonous and is usualy not aggresive towards humans.

Not being venomous, the snake's only defence is to produce a garlic-smelling fluid from the anal glands, or to feign death by becoming completely limp.The snake may also perform an aggressive display in defence, hissing and striking without actually opening the mouth. It rarely bites in defence. It may also secrete blood from the mouth and nose whilst playing dead. Its enemies are various predator species, including corvids, storks, owls and perhaps other birds of prey, and foxes.

The grass snake is protected in Denmark and many of its habitats are protected according to law. It lives in most of the country, but is rare north of Limfjorden and is not seen on some of the Isles. During the latest 100 years the grass snake has declined considerably in Denmark. In Europe the grass snake is protected by the Bern-convention. 

grass snake hunting, Sweden, photo; wikipedia.

The young grass snake eats earthworms, snails without house, insects, fish fry and tadpoles. The adult snake hunts especially frogs and toads and it swims elegantly out into the water for frogs, but is also seen hunting along the edge of a lake. When the snake is close to the prey it uses its sense of smell to catch it. The adult grass snake feeds almost exclusively on amphibians, although they occassionally eat lesser mammals and fish. A grass snake in captivity can eat earthworms, but it never feeds on carrion. Contrarily to the python the grass snake consumes the prey while it is alive and is not influenced by the poison from amphibians.

The grass snake is especially found along rivers, lakes and bogs, but also in heaths, in forest clearings, in field borders and stone dikes. It demands a varied terrain, and its preferred habitat is lakes and bogs where the sun shines - and which is surrounded by forest. If you see many frogs somewhere, you'll probably also find grass snakes. The chance to see them is especially in the afternoon where they are most active, since the water is warmest at that time.The grass snake has declined in Denmark since its prey, frogs and toads have declined in numbers and spread. Their habitats have disappeared or they are destroyed. The landscapes are more uniform and the snake needs stone dikes, field borders and alike in order to find a suitable place for laying eggs. The manure by the farms where the grass snake can lay its egss have become rare.

grass snake swimming, photo: wikipedia

Grass snakes, as with most reptiles, are at the mercy of the thermal environment and need to overwinter in areas which are not subject to freezing. Thus, they typically spend the winter underground where the temperature is relatively stable. The males appear in the end of March after hibernating in winter, and they start to sunbathe near the winter-quarter. They are ready to mate at the end of April after they have been moulting which occurs at least once during the active season. As the outer skin wears and the snake grows, the skin loosens from the body, including from the eyes, which may turn a milky white colour at this time. This presumably affects the eyesight of the snakes and they do not move or hunt during this time. The outer skin is eventually sloughed in one piece (inside-out) and normal movement activity is resumed.

bog lake Rebild Forest 2012, gb
At this point the females appear and the mating happens in the beginning of May. The females lay their eggs in mid-summer. The eggs have to be placed where it is moist and warm in a landscape like in Denmark, where the grass snake uses manures, compost piles, and piles with garden waste. Laying eggs might happen in a compost pile at least 15 cm inside the pile. The litter of the grass snake is averagely 13 eggs.The eggs are hatched in the middle of or the end of September, and  the young ones can take food at once.

If the weather is cold, the grass snake hibernates without having eaten. The young ones live very hidden and grow 10-15 cm each year. The males are mature after the third winter, the females after the fourth winter. Some grass snakes can reach an age of 23 years. In August-September the animals return to their winter quarter. If it is hot enough the snakes might mate once again. They hibernate in late September or in the beginning of October. When overwintering they demand a place which is not too moist, like a southfacing hill in the edge of a bog area, but they might also overwinter among stones in ruins, in stoneworks at old bridges, in abandoned fox graves or hollows under trees.

fairy tale  folklore
In Danish folklore the snakes are both large and very varied. The stories about the house snake is a lesser group and those stories mostly belong to Jutland.

The country people were very familiar with its presence and they rarely hurt the grass snake, which almost belonged to the livestock like the stork did. The snake was considered as a protector of the house and a good spirit. The grass snakes liked to go into the houses and they were allowed to do so in many places, since they repaid this freedom by cleaning the house from mice and insects. And people accepted that the snake drank the cream and the milk from the milk jug and lived in and under the beds.

The beds were in "the old days" mostly alcoves with curtains or wooden doors. In the bottom of the bed were placed heather bundles as close as possible and above this was spread the bedstraw. Such a bed bottom was a popular place for the grass snake. It loved the heat, and the goodnatured animal became easily domesticated with people, who did not hurt them. The snake often resided in houses and stables.
There are many stories about children sharing their porridge and milk with a grass snake, and the parents thought it meant great luck for a child to eat together with a snake. An old man told about his childhood in the late 1890s: "When our parents were out working in the field,  and while we children were sitting eating, the grass snakes came and began to lap up the milk, but we thought it was exciting. "

alcove bed, wikipedia
In a village Hesselholt, Mammen parish were so many grass snakes that they walked across the floors when there was silence in the house. In many villages and parishes are told about grass snakes living in the bottom of the beds. In Kragelund, Mid-Jutland someone told that there was a big number of snakes in the manure and in the heather bundles of the beds, and the snakes milked the cows! This was a constant rumour everywhere. An old woman told about Vissing kloster. Here were so many grass snakes that they walked into the houses and resided in the alcove beds. There are lots of stories about the grass snakes living in the bedstraw and lapping the milk from the porridge.

The Grass Snake King.
The stories about the king of the grass snake are similar to the stories about the Viper King, which can be read in the article about the viper here on Thyra-blog.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chocolate is healthy -.Seven good News!

Here are seven good news about chocolate, so don't feel it as a burden upon your conscience if you love chocolate. 
A piece of chocolate each day is okay!

1) Chocolate minimizes the risc of a stroke. 
If you eat 60 g chocolate a week, you've got less risc of dying from a stroke.This is due to the flavonoids, an antioxidant, which is richly presented in chocolat. It lowers the blood pressure and the levels of the bad cholesterol.

2)  - keeps you slim
People who eat moderate chocolate each week are slimmer than people eating chocolate sometimes. A research shows this. In USA they compared two similar groups of people. The difference was there, but it was not obvious what made the difference.

3) - gives you a sharper eyesight
A piece of chocolate can make you a better driver in bad weather. The flavonoids are probably the reason, since they increase the blood flow to the retina which makes you see better. This is particularly true when it is difficult to distinguish contrasts in rain and fog.

4 ) - makes you a math genius!
If you need to control your loan in the bank or help your school-child with the math? A little chocolate can make you more clever. An English research concluded that students who eat chocolate were better doing the math. The reason? The flavonoids increase the blood flow to the brain.

5) - makes you remember it all.
Chocolate can overcome the age-related memory. In other words: it makes you wiser. In order to find out if this could be measured, a scientist examined for fun the link between chocolate-ingesting and the Nobel-prizes. In Schwitzerland people are the top chocolate eaters -  and Schwitzerland is in top as to the Nobel prizes!!

6) - can promote love
 Does chocolate work as a natural viagra? Both yes and now. It is known that the substance fenetylamin, which is present in lesser numbers in chocolate, releases endorphines and increases the effect of dopamine, which on the other hand affects the sexual desire. But it is not certain if the number of the substance in chocolate is enough to affect the sexual feelings.

7. - helps the PMS-mood.
 Chocolate increases the serotonin-hormone in the brain. Therefore it functions as increasing the mood for a woman with pms or menses, where the serotonin-levels are low.

By Anki Sydegaard/ translation Marianne Arnvig/sundhedsøndag, nr. 46, 11.11.13, 
Sources: Medicinehunter. com,, SVD.SE, BBC NEWS,