Kierulf, Frode (1889-1963)

Kierulf, Frode (1889-1963)

Danish artist Frode Kierulf called upon charismatic dashes of colour and his lively, interpretative brush to create works brimming with life and artistic flair in early 20th-century Denmark.

Kierulf’s artistic education began at an early age. He started with a painting apprenticeship, and then study at the preparatory Technical School before he moved on to the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts as a young man. Here, he would be tutored by two esteemed Danish artists of the time: Otto Bache (1839-1927) and Viggo Johansen (1851-1935).

It seems possible that these stalwarts would offer pillars of learning for Kierulf to lean on as he moved forward in his artistic career. There is a tint of realism in Kierulf’s work, a style coveted by Bache. He has a strong eye for perspective and depth, he marks distinctly the delineation between different areas in both his interior and landscape scenes.

However, he leant much more heavily upon the pillar of impressionism which was Johansen’s domain. Indeed, Kierulf seems to move with the times in terms of what painting style was sweeping Europe. Impressionism had been on the rise since the late 19th century and was offering a challenge to the deeply entrenched Danish tradition of realism. This abrupt, spontaneous manner of capturing everyday moments and the ethereal shifts of nature was revitalizing the art world, and many young artists found it incredibly appealing. Kierulf included.

His works are set alight with quick brushstrokes. They conjure up the texture of creased sheets, of craggy rockfaces, with thick layers of paint. Shadow and depth are grown from the discerning application of darker colours against the light, a slick hand dexterously applying more paint, more mood. Yet there is also a sleekness in the way Kierulf captures the twisting movement of bushes and trees, anointed with a summer breeze. The supple flesh of his female figures, swathed in homely interiors, is soft and slick. The limbs and lines of their bodies are wrought with as much elegance as any sculptor taming marble into a soft shape.

All of this is enhanced with a glorious use of colour. Quite often Kierulf was drawn to theatre life and entertainment spaces. Indeed, for a period of time, he worked as assistant to Aksel Jørgensen (1883-1957), decorating the walls of the Lorry establishment in Frederiksberg, known for putting on a show. His vivid use of colour was surely appealing for capturing the electric energy of these venues, as well as injecting their walls with the same vim and vigour.

In nature, too, there is a canny skill in Kierulf’s use of an ebullient colour palette to capture the essence and feel of a scene. He made many trips to Europe during his life and would visit Italy, in particular, on a number of occasions. His landscapes depicting the sun-baked, Mediterranean countryside are christened with a glorious lightness of colour.

Kierulf is a fascinating example of a Danish artist hearing the call towards more modern modes of artistic style and shouting back with his own bold, stylistic statement. He was a regular exhibitor in his hometown and surely contributed to the growing shift in Danish art during the early 20th century.


Born in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Studied at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.


Awarded the K.A. Larssen scholarship.


Exhibition at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition.


Married Elvira Pehrsson.


Travelled regularly to Italy.


Awarded the K.A. Larssen scholarship.


Travelled to France, Holland, and Belgium.


Travelled to Germany and Czechoslovakia.



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