Lassen, Aksel Martin (1869-1946)

Lassen, Aksel Martin (1869-1946)

Aksel Martin Lassen devoted most of his career to the celebration of his homeland, Denmark, through an arresting array of landscape paintings. Lassen followed in the footsteps of other Danish artists of the 19th-century who strived to capture the beauty of their country.

This was all done in an effort to celebrate Danish national identity following numerous wars over territory with surrounding countries. The natural world was the perfect visual icon for such a mission.

This was seemingly a loud calling for Lassen who left his previous employment as a gilder to instead pursue art. Indeed, despite travels abroad to Italy and Switzerland, and even living in Paris for a while, Lassen’s artistic muse was his homeland. However, he was very keen to pick up artistic styles from other countries in Europe and weave these through his works.

Indeed, naturalism and impressionism had been growing in interest and excitement throughout the late 19th-century across Europe. By the time Lassen turned a paintbrush to a canvas, Denmark, too, was fascinated by these new approaches to art, so different from the classical styles taught in the Academies. Much more emotion could be instilled into a piece, nature celebrated with much more verve. Lassen surely learnt the tenets of composition and practice from his training but took much more artistic inspiration from new sectors.

A country lane cuts through a verdantly vivacious scene which seems to sway in the wind, leaves bursting from branches in textured brushstrokes.

An opalescent sky casts a candied collection of colours over a blanket of snow, bare-limbed trees set alight in ochre hues by the winter sun.

His bright colours are reminiscent of the romantic tradition of nationalistic work which had come before him, whilst also being in vogue with more evocative styles of art.Lassen found inspiration from one area of Denmark in particular, the dyrehaven, or deer park. Along with a group of other artists, Lassen appreciated the complex, varied beauty of this natural space.

So much so, they created an exhibition group so they could get together and share such passion in their paintings. Here great swathes of grass are laid out in elegant strokes, deer resting graciously amongst the green, whilst noble, ancient trees stand watchful. It was in these paintings in particular that Lassen was said to turn his brush much more towards the traditions of nationalistic Danish art, rather than to a more modern mood. Nonetheless, in every work he executed, passion and fascination are the key ingredients.

Lassen was tutored and indeed became friends with renowned Danish painter Kristian Zarhtmann (1843-1917). Perhaps from such a figure he obtained an understanding of the necessary passion and stamina needed to devote oneself to the painterly craft. If that was the case, then Lassen demonstrates through every work his passion.

Lassen captures the aliveness of his homeland with each brushstroke. No part of a scene ever seems lacklustre.

1869

Born in Copenhagen.

1886-1888

Studied at the Technical School.

1889-1893

Began studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.

1894-1900

Enrolled in Kristian Zhartmann’s School at the Artist’s Free Study Schools.

1903

Travelled to Italy.

1911

Married Gudrun Dyveke Elisabeth Munch Lassen.

1946

Died in Copenhagen.

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