Stoneware for the People: Theme auction with Arne Bang

According to the Danish sculptor Arne Bang, beautiful stoneware should not be a reserved commodity for the financially well-off. At an Online Auction on Tuesday 14 January, we can present a comprehensive collection of works highlighting Bang’s great talent for well-made design.

Beginnings on Frederiksberg

The year 1927 is central to Arne Bang's (1901-1983) artistic work. It was this year, where he, together with Carl Halier (1873-1948), became more seriously involved in the production of stoneware. This work would eventually make him one of the central figures within Danish decorative art.

Bang's prerequisites for investing himself in ceramics were based on the skills he acquired at technical college and later on at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts under Ejnar Utzon-Frank (1888-1955). Bang's test piece was called “En falden kriger” (A Fallen Warrior) and was completed in 1928. In 1942, it was erected at the entrance to Vestre Cemetery in Copenhagen.

It was in the summer of 1926, before graduating from the Academy, that he, along with the more than 20 years older Carl Halier, moved into Bredegade 8 on Frederiksberg. As a trained lathe operator, Halier was well versed in modelling, while Bang, with his education as a sculptor, was able to provide qualified input on the modelling.

Arne Bang: A stoneware vase decorated with dark verdigris glaze with golden brown elements. Estimate: DKK 8,000-10,000.
Arne Bang: A stoneware vase decorated with greenish and brownish glaze. Estimate: DKK 8,000-10,000.

The Production at Holmegaard

The first joint exhibition took place at Winkell & Magnussen's Kunsthandel. This exhibition received a somewhat mixed reception, perhaps because the pair's glazes were not on par with what the Royal Porcelain Factory could produce at the time. This was changed when Arne Bang, encouraged by his brother Jacob E. Bang (1899-1965), was hired by Holmegaard around 1929, where the brother was artistic director.

In parallel with the glass production, the workshop in Næstved wanted to start a production of stoneware that was affordable for the common man. The works were marked in the bottom with the initials “HG” for Holmegaard Glassworks and a number. Later, the signature “AB” was added. The vases, bowls, jugs and jam jars were joined by a smaller collection of animal figures that had their origin in Bang's background as a sculptor. Over the years, he further developed this part of his artistic work.

Increasing Popularity

There was no doubt that the ceramics were a permanent part of the sculptor's life. Bang was a diligent initiator, and in 1937, Holmegaard was reportedly producing 10,000 pieces of ceramics annually. That these pieces were more than experimentations is confirmed by the fact that the production was based on around 250 different models. The sales were great, both because of low prices, but also because of the increasingly refined use of elegant designs and glazes that were pleasing to the eye. At one point in time, the ceramics of Bang became so popular that they were simply nicknamed “the gift" – in other words, the perfect sign of appreciation to give at a festive occasion.

Arne Bang: A stoneware bowl decorated with rust-red glaze with golden elements. Estimate. DKK 5,000.

The Legacy of the Ceramics

After having stood in the shadow of the big names from the Royal Porcelain Factory for some years, the ceramics of Bang now enjoy the same level of recognition as names such as Saxbo and Kähler. The collectors have truly discovered the wide variety of modelling as well as the well-matched glazes, which range from evergreen and sand-coloured tones over ochre colours to deep midnight blue.

The theme auction is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the many expressions of the ceramics of Bang. And yes – there is still the opportunity, entirely in the spirit of Arne Bang, to make a great purchase at a price that most people can afford.

Theme Auction

Arne Bang

14 January at 8 pm

For further information, please contact:

Amalie Hansen (København): +45 8818 1194 · amh@bruun-rasmussen.dk

Kristine Toftgaard Tanderup (Aarhus): +45 8818 1237 · ktt@bruun-rasmussen.dk