Original color lithograph, archivally matted and framed, 24 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches, edition 887/2000
Asger Jorn was born Asger Oluf Jörgensen in Vejrum, Denmark, on March3, 1914. He visited Paris in fall 1936, where he studied at Fernand Léger’s Académie contemporaine. During World WarII, Jorn remained in Denmark, painting canvases that reflect the influence of James Ensor, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró and contributing to the magazine Helhesten (Ghost horse, nine issues, 1941–44).
Jorn traveled to Swedish Lapland in summer 1946, met Constant (Constant Nieuwenhuys) in Paris that fall, and spent six months in Jerba, Tunisia, in 1947–48. His first solo exhibition in Paris took place in 1948 at the Galerie Breteau. At about the same time the group Cobra (1948–51), an acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, was founded by Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille (Guillaume Cornelis Beverloo), Christian Dotremont, Jorn, and Joseph Noiret. The group’s unifying doctrine was the complete freedom of expression with an emphasis on color and brushwork. Jorn edited monographs of the Bibliothèque Cobra before disassociating himself from the movement.
In 1951 Jorn returned, poor and ill, to Silkeborg, Denmark, where his family had moved when he was an adolescent. He began his intensive work in ceramics in 1953. The following year he settled in Albisola, Italy, and participated in a continuation of Cobra called Mouvement International pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste (International movement for an imaginist Bauhaus, 1953–57). Jorn’s activities included painting, collage, book illustration, prints, drawings, ceramics, tapestries, commissions for murals, and, in his last years, sculpture. He participated in the movement Internationale Situationniste (Situationist International, 1957–72) from 1957 to 1961 and worked on a study of early Scandinavian art between 1961 and 1965. After the mid-1950s Jorn divided his time between Paris and Albisola. His first solo show in New York took place in 1962 at the Lefebre Gallery. From 1966 Jorn concentrated on oil painting and traveled frequently, visiting Cuba, England and Scotland, the United States, and Asia. Jorn died on May1, 1973, in Aarhus, Denmark.
“1 Cent Life” began as a simple idea by artist Walasse Ting in 1962, developed during talks he had with his friend the artist Sam Francis. Ting wanted to combine international artists and different styles into a single book, linking them together in one collective spirit alongside his own art and poetry.
“1 Cent Life” was a landmark publication from 1964, and is now a collectible book based on the impressive artwork it contains. It was a revolutionary tract for a collective aesthetic; an assembled vision of Pop and European abstraction, featuring flat hard-edged and splatter painting; biomorphic art, splashing florescent colors and monochromes all meeting up in a single loud and dynamic package. “1 Cent Life” is among the most beautifully conceived and artistic book-works of the 1960s, unlike anything published before or after. With large empty spaces next to areas of maximum color saturation and layered density, “1 Cent Life” was an inspirational book of 1960s design and spirit – a polyglot enterprise –and certainly Ting’s best known work.
“1 Cent Life” is a large elephant-folio unbound book containing 62 lithographs made by 28 European and American artists with 62 letterpress poems by Walasse Ting and set in multi-colored inks. The lithography was realized and printed in Paris by Maurice Beaudet and the typography carried out in handset letterpress by George Girard. The book was published by E. W. Kornfeld, Bern, Switzerland in 1964, and edited by artist Sam Francis.
Ting’s poems are jarring and mystical, sometimes epic and soaring, screamed out in all-capitalized letters or whispered in lower-case, creating a language lost in limbo, choked off from reality, lacking standard grammar and punctuation, soaked with impulsive wit and exoticism – a language of a complete new consciousness – a tongue that is bound with the earth and sky, inflamed and out of sync with technology and the world. Ting is difficult but always true to himself.
“1 Cent Life” was dedicated to the maverick Detroit-based contemporary art collector Florence Barron, most famously known as the woman who in 1963 commissioned Andy Warhol to produce his first self-portraits. It is speculated that Florence Barron put up the funds necessary to print the edition, as one of the main themes of her collection was her love of books and words and their relationship to contemporary art, advertising media and culture. Florence may have just been close friends with Ting, an artist she supported and promoted, among her friends and contacts.
In addition to the original printing of 1900 unsigned copies, there was a numbered portfolio edition of 100 signed copies in a pink cloth-covered solander box. There are 62 original lithographs in colors by; Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Enrico Baj, Alan Davie, Jim Dine, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Sam Francis, Robert Indiana, Alfred Jensen, Asgar Jorn, Allan Kaprow, Alfred Leslie, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Mitchell, Kiki O.K., Claes Oldenburg, Mel Ramos, Robert Rauschenberg, Reinhold, J.P. Riopelle, James Rosenquist, Antonio Saura, Kimber Smith, K.R.H. Sonderberg, Walasse Ting, Bram Van Velde, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann.
The chosen title; “1 Cent Life” is ambiguous and unclear. His respect for the low and neglected is evident throughout the book, where painting, women and food are at the core of Ting’s life and there is little need for monetary considerations. Prostitutes, bums, movie stars, the Pope and J.F.K. are given equal billing in the poems.
There is no hierarchy or order to “1 Cent Life”, no artist is featured and all pages are loose and removable. The title could refer to “one sent life” – a nod to the creator (artistic or spiritual) as in the unity of the collection of artists contained within. Ting’s ideas and canvas were always in the now, a reflection of the eternity present in everything.