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'Martsudstillingen'

‘Martsudstillingen’ (the Month of March Exhibition) was established in 1951 on the initiative of Ejler Bille and Erik Thommesen. From the start the association was intended as an alternative to the other artists' associations of the time, for instance Cobra which had counted Ejler Bille and Erik Thommesen among its members.
 
Apart from Ejler Bille and Erik Thommesen the painter Harald Leth and the sculptor Astrid Noack, among others, participated in the preparatory meetings. The first ‘Martsudstilling’ took place in March 1951.
 
‘Martsudstillingen’ was formed in response to the Cobra movement's cultivation of primitive art and spontaneity. Moreover, ‘Martsudstillingen’ saw the many formal experiments performed by Cobra and other artists' associations as experiments for the sake of experimenting and not as a source of new artistic creativity.
 
The members of ‘Martsudstillingen’ moved in another direction. Away from the idea of art as being in constant rebellion against the established order. Instead they chose an approach founded on tradition and the idea that content, not form is what matters the most.
 
Contrary to several other artists' associations ‘Martsudstillingen’ was therefore able to embrace both abstract and figurative artists. What is more, the group rejected the traditional distinctions between craft and other art forms, and so the tapestry weaver Anna Thommesen and the ceramicist Gertrud Vasegaard were later accepted as members. Before that, the painter Viggo Jensen, among others, had become a member.
 
A common feature of the members of ‘Martsudstillingen’ was that their motifs were often related to nature, even though some of the artists worked in the abstract style. Another common feature was the high weighting given to artistic workmanship and the artistic process. Several of the artists in the group associated the artistic process itself with an almost meditative state. Often the work processes were long and arduous, carried out in self-imposed isolation.
 
From the start ‘Martsudstillingen’ was a closed group of artists. Most of the artists who joined the association remained faithful and continued to take part in its exhibitions right up until the very last one in 1981.
 
Albert Mertz was a member in 1959. The colours and shapes of nature can be seen in works from precisely this year, and for a short period of time his work shows an affinity with the artists of ‘Martsudstillingen’. However, Albert Mertz wanted to explore new territory and soon travelled to Paris. Here he became engaged with the international artistic movements of the day such as Pop Art and Kinetics Art. With the passing of time Albert Mertz developed a personal, conceptually based art – easily recognisable for the particular red and blue colours that he had a preference for.