Other stories: Asger Jorn’s and Pierre Wemaëre’s Le Long Voyage, 1959-1960



Asger Jorn, Pierre Wemaëre, Le Long Voyage


In the autumn of 1958, the Danish artist Asger Jorn (1914-1973) received a commission for a large, coloured tapestry to be installed at the Statsgymnasium in Aarhus, Denmark. Jorn drew in his friend, the French artist Pierre Wemaëre (1913-2010), as a collaborator in this initiative. In this article, I shed light on Jorn's and Wemaëre's effort to push boundaries when producing the work. These included a challenge to disciplinary boundaries – that is, between art, craft, design and architecture – as well as social hierarchies between the artist as the creator and the weavers as the executors. The attempt was also to challenge institutional boundaries between high art and popular art, as well as professional boundaries – that is, between a spontaneous production method versus one that is based on planning combined with a division of labour. But, as I reveal through an exploration of the making of the weaving, these ideals were of necessity compromised during the process of production and, while resulting in an impressive and memorable work, the project did not ultimately challenge existing norms of creating large-scale weavings.






Themed section: Material narratives