For more than 70 years J.F. Willumsen (1863-1958) was active as a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, ceramicist and architect.
In the early 1880’s he started adhering to the new realist school of painters depicting workers and poor people. He left the academy and joined a free studio school, established by a group of young artists. In 1888-89 he travelled to Paris and Spain and became acquainted with impressionism.
In 1893 he founded “The Free Exhibition” together with other artists from the school. He designed the building in which the exhibition was held. This building still works as an exhibition hall in Copenhagen. In Paris, where he lived from 1890-1894, he created works in a daring symbolist style that aroused attention and scandal. Furthermore he trained himself to perfection as a ceramicist.
In the 20th century he returned to figurative images, for which he found inspiration on numerous travels and prolonged sojourns in Europe. He was constantly seeking new ways to express things. From 1928-58 he lived permanently in southern France.
Willumsen’s main works are in leading Scandinavian museums. His personal museum, established by a special law, was inaugurated in 1957 in the town of Frederikssund, Zealand. During his lifetime his works were often target for debate and criticism, but he is now considered as one of the most important Danish artists.