Kai Nielsen

Kai Nielsen, the sculptor, played a considerable part in the Faaborg Museum.

Nielsen came from Svendborg, a town situated a little further east along the coast from Faaborg. In 1912 he studied at the Fine Art Academy, Copenhagen and during 1913-14 he travelled to Paris and studied both contemporary and traditional art. He was a member of the Artists’ Autumn Exhibition, the Free Exhibition and was responsible for many works in public spaces such as twenty-two sculptures at Blågårds Plads, Copenhagen (1912-1922) and Ymerbrønden (Ymer’s Well), Faaborg (1913).

Kai Nielsen combined elements of classical art with modernism in his use of form and materials. Most of his work depicts the human body in harmony with a benevolent and nurturing natural world. The work frequently deals with mysticism and narratives of ‘the eternal’; in particular Nielsen was inspired by Nordic and Greek mythologies and Biblical texts.

Faaborg Museum’s Sole Sculptor

Many of Kai Nielsen’s works are located in parks and public spaces throughout Denmark, but Faaborg Museum owns several of his important pieces like the influential works Marmorpigen (Marble Girl) (1909) and Granittøsen (Granite Lass) (1915). In the centre of the Museum’s cobalt blue domed gallery Mads Rasmussen, the Museum’s founder, stands proudly, a polished granite monumental sculpture. The completed work has stood in this very spot since 1915 and the Museum’s inauguration.

In the sculpture gallery there is a group of casts (1923-24) made for a complex work located in the loggia on Studentergården in Copenhagen. One group Jordens tilblivelse (Earth’s Creation) shows Ymer’s herculean body laying out the earth for the human race. Another group, Menneskets tilblivelse (Human Creation), shows Adam and Eve together with God where the figures duplicate while emerging from the darkness.

Kai Nielsen, The Marble Girl, 1909-10. Faaborg Museum.
Kai Nielsen, The Marble Girl, 1909-10. Faaborg Museum.
Peter Hansen, Kai Nielsen Modelling Mads Rasmussen, 1913. Faaborg Museum.
Peter Hansen, Kai Nielsen Modelling Mads Rasmussen, 1913. Faaborg Museum.

Ymerbrønden

Faaborg Museum also displays the original sandstone version of the famous Ymerbrønd (Ymer’s Well) (1913). In 1964 this was replaced in Faaborg’s main town square with a bronze replica. The sculpture shows Nordic mythology’s creation story where the naked giant Ymer drinks from the cow Audhumbla’s udder. The cow licks a salt-stone and from this a boy called Bure is created.

In addition the Museum owns a large number of minor sculptures and statuettes in plaster, clay, bronze and porcelain. They show Nielsen’s ability to work in a range of scales and across different materials. They further suggest that women and children at that time were a recurring theme in Art.

The domed gallery room with Kai Nielsen’s portrait sculpture of Mads Rasmussen.
The domed gallery room with Kai Nielsen’s portrait sculpture of Mads Rasmussen.
The sculpture gallery with works by Kai Nielsen.
The sculpture gallery with works by Kai Nielsen.