Oluf Gravesen, Dutch (1943 - 1987)

Oluf Gravesen, Dutch (1943 - 1987)

Oluf Gravesen, whose artworks were employed by Fog & Mørup, Gravesen’s work (Gravesen is primarily known for nail wall sculptures) went unrecognised for decades until it was spotted recently by Sune Riishede in two late 60s images – one an F&M Diskos advert and the other a picture of a Danish Furniture Manufacturers’ Association display at the London Earls Court International Furniture Show.

Sune had become close friends with Oluf Gravesen when both moved to Copenhagen after being at boarding school together in the late 1950s. In 1961 the 18-year-old Gravesen became the youngest person to be admitted to the Danish Royal Academy’s Spring Exhibition at Charlottenborg, exhibiting three small scrap metal reliefs. A successful solo exhibition at Den Permanente in the mid-60s brought his work to the attention of Copenhagen’s stylists and led to its inclusion in room settings such as those above. Later he worked on his artworks, all made entirely of nails, in Paris, London and New York. Gravesen’s exile meant he was not widely known in Denmark, so when he returned home from New York in the mid-1980s with a deadly disease, his tragically premature death was marked only by his family and closest friends and came, in the words of Pittsburgh’s Concept Art Gallery, “before he could see the influence his work would have on the late 20th and early 21st century New York art scene”.

Sune Riishede has spotted another of Oluf’s artworks, this time featuring in a 1966 Fog & Mørup advertisement for Jo Hammerborg’s Trombone table lamp. Sune tells us: “I remember that Oluf had a short period in the early 1960s where he would penetrate a thin metal sheet with nails to create a landscape of holes, and also to hammer a shape in the metal surface. I imagine that this one belonged to interior designer Bent Kilåe’s collection, since I never saw those works again.”

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