Contact

Museumsvej 2A
DK-7500 Holstebro
+ 45 9742 4518
info@holstebrokunstmuseum.dk

 

Poul Holm Olsen

Poul Holm Olsen was born into a family of fishermen in Holbæk. His early love of drawing and painting led to an apprenticeship as a house painter – as was quite common among artists at the time. Having frequented Bizzie Høyer’s drawing school, he was accepted at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Sculpture School in 1949, where he was taught by Professor Einar Utzon-Frank. Education here was conventional, encouraging traditional art practices. 
 
In 1954 Poul Holm Olsen won a French state scholarship, which allowed him to go to Paris. His stay there was to leave an indelible mark on his life as an artist. 
 
In Paris he found the subject matter that would absorb him for many years to come: The prostitutes, the city’s old women and other quirky Parisian types. Poul Holm Olsen was a figurative artist and worked from life. And while his work was governed by observation, he was also fascinated by sculpture as form. 
 
Poul Holm Olsen was not particularly productive. He worked on many of his figures for years before achieving a satisfactory sculptural expression. And he kept his works to himself. Few people got to see them and he very rarely exhibited. In the 1960s he completely stopped making sculptures.  
 
Paris was also the place where, in 1954, Poul Holm Olsen began to collect African masks and figures. He combed the flea market at Port de Clignancourt, laying the foundation of his large collection which comprises almost 1000 items. Poul Holm Olsen did not look upon the African masks and figures as ethnographical or exotic objects but as works of art on a par with classical and modern European art. 
 
It was only natural, therefore, that the art historian Poul Vad, who had been commissioned by the municipality of Holstebro to build a collection for the town’s new art museum, contacted Poul Holm Olsen with a view to depositing parts of his collection at Holstebro Kunstmuseum. Poul Vad wished to create a collection that would reveal art as a universal phenomenon across time and culture.   
 
When the museum opened on 5 May 1967, the exhibition included a selection of Poul Holm Olsen’s African objects, displayed on an equal footing with Danish art and European modernism. And in 1977 Poul Holm Olsen bequeathed his entire collection to Holstebro Kunstmuseum.  
 
Poul Holm Olsen was a true collector in the classical sense of the word. Not only did he collect African objects, but also – among many other things – Greek torsos, Chinese furniture and Egyptian and Indian busts.
 
In 1955 Poul Holm Olsen was appointed lecturer at the Sculpture School of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – a position he held until his death in 1990. His original personality, his wide knowledge of art and sculpture, sculptural techniques and, in particular, patination of bronze sculptures combined to make him an influential teacher who became a source of inspiration for many generations of sculptors.
 
Poul Holm Olsen