Among Trees
Works by Henry Heerup, Rune Bosse and Astrid Kruse Jensen


The exhibition ‘Among Trees’ is based on Henry Heerup’s burning interest in nature and in trees as vital symbols and motifs in art. With this exhibition, the museum wishes to mark the 100th anniversary of Heerup’s artistic birth. This is how he himself described his experience of the old oak tree ‘Ulvedalsegen’ in Dyrehaven, which he painted for the first time at the age of 17, on Saint John’s Eve in 1924. Since then, Heerup has referred to the experience several times as decisive for his choice of life path and through this he expresses a connection in and with nature. It is a worship of nature, which today occupies several contemporary artists, among others Rune Bosse (DK, b. 1987) and Astrid Kruse Jensen (DK, b. 1978), who have been invited to show drawings, sculptural wooden objects and photographic works side by side with a large number of Heerup’s paintings, drawings and graphic prints from private collectors and from the museum’s own collection.

Despite growing up in the big city, Heerup lived his whole life close to nature. The nature that Heerup loved and cultivated the most was that in his vicinity: the city’s parks, Dyrehaven and his own garden, where there was not much drama over the self-sown elder trees, cat cheese and bear’s claws. He preferred to create his art in the open air – and since 1945 in his garden in Rødovre. Heerup both painted, drew and wrote about ‘Ulvedalsegen’ repeatedly over the years. Among other things in 1969 with the painting ‘The
Boy at Ulvedalsegen’, where 45 years after his landmark experience, he added another layer of significance. Inside the gnarled trunk of the tree stands a man – grey-haired but muscular. It is the now 62-year-old artist who has painted a vision in which he sees himself as a natural core in the hollow tree, as if he lay safely in a womb. It is in this depiction of connectedness and closeness between man and nature that we must find the fundamental meaning of the old oak tree for Heerup.

In trees, and in nature in general, Heerup found a connection to the deeper meaning of life, and at the same time also of art. This is expressed in his many motifs of not least trees, which seem to emphasize the connectedness of everything. It is a view of nature that aligns with the Italian biologist and philosopher Emanuele Coccia’s view of trees as the origin of life: “We always slide into other bodies in both a physical and figurative way, and we are always invaded by other bodies in the same way.” (Emanuele Coccia in
interview with Rune Lykkeberg in Information, 6 May 2022).