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Bent Exner

From strict geometry to hash of the soul -
Bent Exner’s jewellery and church art in the collection of Vendsyssel Museum of Art

Private view Friday 24th April 2009 at 15–17. The exhibition is open until 27th September 2009.

”I work with two sides — one where I choose geometrical forms that are not my own but forms that I cultivate. The other side is the hash of my own soul. Here I collect what is good and bad in life in a dialogue between darkness and light, between chaos and control.”

These are the words of Bent Exner. They inspire to the title of the Vendsyssel Museum of Art summer exhibition ’From strict geometry to hash of the soul’. The exhibition presents the museum’s new special collection of Bent Exner’s jeweller’s art, donated to the museum by his heirs. The collection includes works from all of Bent Exner’s activities, and is therefore an invaluable strengthening of Vendsyssel Museum of Art’s collection of Exner’s works. With the many new works, among others more than 230 pieces of jewellery and 1,000 drafts, the museum can now present all of Bent Exner’s artistic development within jewellery and church art. From a strict geometrical idiom over an expression inspired by landscapes to the freely growing, organic free rein of the imagination in precious metals and stones, items that Exner himself referred to as ’the hash of the soul’.

Bent Exner created his first works as a jeweller in the mid-1950ies, and his last works were completed in 2006. He was one of Denmark’s most acknowledged and renewing one-off product jewellers, known for his uncompromising workmanship standard and for the original, artistic quality of his works. His extravagant rings, pendants and bracelets in gold, silver and precious stones exceeded the traditional applied art and decorative function of the jewellery, just as his church art was a new interpretation of the Christian symbols in a modern idiom and choice of material.

Throughout life Exner sought to express ethical and religious positions in jewellery as well as church art. Therefore, he found more harmony with the visual art than with the changing whims of fashion, that have characterized Danish jewellery craft thought-out the years.

’From strict geometry to hash of the soul’ demonstrates Bent Exner’s pieces of jewellery, church art, drafts and experiments in visual art together with paintings, sculptures and handicraft from the collection of the museum. Thus, the hanging illuminates the artist’s barrier-breaking fusion between craft, handicraft and visual art.

In connection with the exhibition the book ’From strict geometry to hash of the soul’ is published. It presents new research that underlies the exhibition.

The research, the exhibition and the book has been supported by the Heritage Agency of Denmark and C.L. David’s Grant as well as by the heirs of the photographer Svend Thomsen.

Master of Arts Anne Lie Stokbro will lead a conducted tour in the exhibition Sunday 17th May 2008 at 14 o’clock.

Museum Director Marianne Ilkjær – or tel. +45 98 96 43 27
Project Researcher Anne Lie Stokbro – or tel. +45 98 92 41 33

Press pictures can be downloaded from