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Gerda Thune Andersen
Danish Sculptor
KOKOON Portraits # 22

Gerda Thune Andersen – born in 1932 – is among Denmark's foremost sculptors and was recently awarded with the Carl Nielsen and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen Honorary Grant for a solid artistic oeuvre with a global foundation that critically addresses culture, history, religion, and climate.

We met Gerda in her studio for a conversation about her 75-year career, sparked by a lump of clay from her mother at the age of 14. Despite raising children in the countryside, she juggled motherhood with her artistic pursuits, supported by her enduring marriage.

With a delightful sense of humor, she shares her artistic journey, influenced by diverse themes from childbirth to cultural encounters, and cites Louise Bourgeois as a significant inspiration.

 

When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

 When I was 14 years old, I got my first lump of clay from my mother, and I instantly felt inspired. She was a painter, trained at the art academy, so I have always been surrounded by colors and creativity. Ever since I received that clay, I have been working with clay and always known that I wanted to be a sculptor, and now I am celebrating my 75th anniversary as a sculptor.

 

What are you passionate about in your art?

 I'm interested in many things. I've always created portraits because I'm very interested in people, always trying to figure out who the person is. I graduated from the academy as the last class that was taught to model after a model to make it resemble. And then there's everything else I've done along the way, which is of course very much influenced by where I am in life. When my children were small, I made sculptors of them, and I have also been very interested in what happens inside a woman giving birth, the embryo separating among other and the birth itself.

Later I started traveling extensively. I lived in the third world for many years; Kenya, Laos, Kairo and Damascus which greatly influenced me. An example of this is the work Dome or Die. These pieces are related to the three monotheistic religions; Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, fighting against each other and destroying each other's holy places, and sadly they continue to do so.

The cultures I encountered left a huge impact on my work.

 

How did you find time to work on your art when you had children

 I have always worked, even when I had children, and I have always lived in the countryside because I am married to a forester. Therefore, none of my children have ever been in daycare or nursery; they went straight to school, luckily, they have not been influenced by daycare educators.

 

Who would you say has been the most important person in your life as an artist?

 Well, I have a lifelong, strong marriage with a man I've been married to for 65 years. He has been a support for me in many ways, and vice versa. I would say he is the perfect man for a sculptor; he has never complained about me spending money on materials, or not having the dinner ready at 18 o clock.  He has always been very generous, and it has meant the world to me to have a partner who is interested and supportive. He has always been very generous and supported me financially many times, and now I am glad I can be the one to support him.

 

Has your gender influenced your art, and if so, how?

 Yes, when I was younger, being a woman in the art world was challenging. Thankfully, this has changed radically.

 Personally, I haven't let it affect me, and I have been a feminist for a long time. I have never felt inferior or oppressed in any way; I have claimed my space.

 

 Do you have any role models in the art world who have meant a lot to you?

 That has changed throughout my life.  However, there are some significant heroes and icons who have inspired me over the years. Louise Bourgeois is one of the great ones, and when I started, there was Rodin and Carl Nielsen. Anselm Kiefer has also been an inspiration - but if I have to mention one, it must be Louise Bourgeois. Just like me, she broke through at the age of 80.

 In the hands of an artist - Gerda wearing Nemo shirt in black crepe de chine.

  Artwork "Metamorphosis".The shelves in Gerda´s studio brim with an eclectic array and each piece holds a testament to creativity and meticulous craftsmanship.

Gerda wearing Harry pants & Mara Jacket in Mao blue silk/linen & Inspiration board.