Læsø AiR

For many years, art has been an inextricable part of Læsø’s identity, and for almost two centuries the island has played a major role in the life and work of some of Denmark’s greatest artists.

What is particularly special is how the unique artistic retreats of two of Denmark’s and the world’s most acclaimed artists – Asger Jorn (1914-1973) and Per Kirkeby (1938-2018) – have been recreated and preserved. The nature, tranquillity, contemplation and the ability to escape from the bustle of the metropolitan art scene whenever they needed to, were essential for these two artists.

Now, as a result of collaboration with a number of recognised partners in the Danish and international art worlds, Læsø AiR (Læsø Artist in Residence) will ensure that the retreats of the two artists remain a symbol of history and the artists’ work and residence on the island, serving as inspiration and support for future generations of artists.

The objective of Læsø AiR

The objective of the Læsø AiR programme for professional visual artists is to support the development of artists’ practice and to promote the exchange between Danish and foreign artists and the Danish art scene.

The foreign artists granted residencies will be given the opportunity to take part in a visiting program, networking activities and study visits with institutions and individuals from the Danish art scene. Læsø AiR also wishes to support the artistic process and research phase by providing the artists with time, space and opportunities for reflection and contemplation.

Læsø AiR’s partners

Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Museum Jorn in Silkeborg, Læsø Museum, The Danish Art Workshops (DAW) in Copenhagen, ‘Bangsbohave’ – Asger Jorn’s former artist’s retreat on the island of Læsø, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts in Copenhagen, HDK-Valand – Academy of Art and Design in Gothenburg, Sweden and The Art Academy at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Læsø AiR receives the kind support of

Augustinus Fonden, Den Jyske Kunstfond, the Obel Family Foundation, the Danish Arts Foundation and Læsø Municipality. I 2022 Læsø AiRs event program is supported by Region Nordjylland.

The application deadline for residencies in 2023 at Læsø AiR is 1 December 2022

Applications should be submitted using the digital application form, which will be available at www.laesoeair.dk from 1 November 2022.

In 2023, the Læsø AiR program for foreign artists will include

  • Use of the studio and accommodation in Per Kirkeby’s ideal, beautiful, authentic artist’s retreat, ‘Haabet’, on the island of Læsø, in its beautifully scenic seaside setting.
  • Payment of travel costs (economy class) to and from Læsø.
  • A monthly grant of DKK 7,500/EUR 1,000 to cover living costs, transport and expenses for materials and production during the residency.
  • Visiting programme to Danish art venues for foreign artists.
  • A local host and knowledge group for introductions and networking.
  • 2-3 ‘Open Studio’ events, in which the artist will take part during their stay on. Læsø

Residency periods for foreign artists in 2023

Professional foreign (non-Danish) visual artists can apply for stays of 12 weeks’ duration. Professional Danish visual artists can apply for residencies of 4 and 6 weeks’ duration. At Haabet – Per Kirkebys former artistic retreat – one foreign and one Danish artist can attend the residency program at the same time.

1 foreign artist will be selected for a residency at Per Kirkebys former artistic retreat in the following periods:

  • Mid-March to mid-June 2023
  • Early August to end October 2023

Artists can list their desired periods of residency in order of priority on the digital application form.

Who can apply?

According to the objective of Læsø AiR professional Danish and foreign visual artists (non-Danish), who can document exhibition experience and previous collaboration with curators at a professional level, can apply for a residency.

For Danish artists, it applies that they live in Denmark and primarily participates in the Danish art scene, and for foreign artists, it applies that they reside abroad and primarily participates in art scenes abroad.

In order to foster exchanges between Danish and foreign artists, Læsø AiR will due to spatial conditions primarily accept applications from individual artists. In the near future we hope to develop Læsø AiR and comply with the requirements of hosting artist groups.

The selected residents will be able to bring close family for a shorter periode of time by agreement with Læsø AiR. The costs of this will be covered by the resident.

It is not allowed to bring pets.

It is a requirement that the applicants are able to communicate in English.

Requirements for Læsø AiR applications

  • A motivated application for a Læsø AiR residency
  • At least one solo exhibition/biennale/major public art project
  • References from 2 professional curators

The application must include

  • A motivated application (max. 1 A4 page)
  • A CV including references from, and contact information of two professional curators (max. 2 A4 page)
  • Illustrations of works – at least five pictures. Text, titles and links can be added here (max. 5 A4 pages)

How will the applications be assessed

The following criteria will be given priority when assessing the applications:

  • the motive the applicant expresses must tally with the policy of the Læsø AiR residency programme. The main objectives of the programme are to build new relationships between Danish and foreign artists and the Danish art world, and to create space for inspiration, tranquillity and contemplation on the island of Læsø.
  • The applicant must be able to document their experience of exhibition/s in significant artistic contexts (i.e. solo presentations in museums or similar art institutions and/or participation in biennales and/or major public art projects etc.), and that
  • the applicant must be able to document previous collaboration with curators, providing the names and contact details of two referees who are acquainted with their development and recent professional work as an artist, and that
  • the applicant must have an ambitious plan for their residency, reflecting artistic quality at a high professional level.

The applications will be assessed by Læsø AiR’s jury of artistic professionals

  • Ellen Hyllemose, MFA, The Royal Danish Academy of Art, Schools of Visual Arts, Artist
  • Sanne Kofod Olsen, Mag. art., Dean, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Gothenburg
  • Jacob Thage, Director, Museum Jorn, Silkeborg
  • Caroline Nymark Zachariassen, MA, Curator, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg
  • Majbritt Løland, MA,  Project Manager, Læsø AiR

Applicants will be informed directly about the jury’s decision within six to eight weeks after the application deadline.

The application deadline for residencies in 2023 is 1 December 2022 

Applications should be submitted using the digital application form, which will be available on Læsø AiR website www.laesoeair.dk from 1 November 2022.

The story of Læsø’s artists

The isolated location of the island in the Kattegat has inspired artists from the mid-19th century to today. The intense light, the sea, the beaches, the meadows, the dunes, the seaweed houses and the tranquillity and space for contemplation the island provides have all invested Læsø with a very special place in the history of Danish art.

Since the Golden Age, artists – including many major names in the worlds of Danish and international art – have journeyed to Læsø to create art. They range from the Golden Age painters Martinus Rørby and P.C. Skovgaard to Michael Ancher, Viggo Johansen, Laurits Tuxen and the Funen painter Johannes Larsen. In the 1950s, modernist landscape painters such as Søren Hjort Nielsen and Johannes Hofmeister made Læsø their haven, while in the 1970s, the artist brothers Arne and Jørgen Haugen Sørensen developed a long-term association with the island. Today, the artist/author Erik Steffensen and the artist Absalon Kirkeby reside and work on Læsø for extended periods of time.

In 1964, Asger Jorn bought ‘Bangsbohave’, a farm on Læsø, allegedly without ever having seen it, going on to convert it into a dwelling and studio. The farm became Jorn’s Danish base in the last years of his life, until his death in 1973. In the late 1970s, Per Kirkeby visited Læsø, and in 1979 bought ‘Haabet’ as a place to stay and work, for almost three decades working intensely during his stays there.