The Danish contemporary artist and sculptor Morten Stræde was born in 1956. He attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts 1978-1985, under the dynamic tutorage of Sven Dalsgaard and later Hein Heinsen.1 Over the years Stræde has received a vast number of grants and awards for his work and has been a lecturer at Danish and International art schools and architect academies. He was professor of sculpture and Head of department at the Academy of Fine Arts Copenhagen 1994 -2003. Over the past 15 years his work has evolved to include sculptures, artworks, architecture and city space. Subsequently he has been an examiner at Schools of Architecture in Århus and Copenhagen, panel member on the Bedre Byrum (Better City Space) competition initiated by Realdania, and a member of the Centre for Urbanity and Aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen. In addition he has worked with a number of architects such as Christoffer Harlang, Jens Bertelsen, GEHL Architects, COBE Architects, PLOT Architects and landscape architect Stig L. Andersson. These collaborations have resulted in larger and smaller scale city projects, such as the planning of Ørestad, the urban development of Sønderborg Harbour, the urban development of the Vejle River area, and a number of developments of squares in Denmark and internationally. Furthermore he has acted as “assistant professor” for internationally celebrated architect; Daniel Libeskind, the creator of monuments such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Danish Jewish Museum.
Morten Stræde has also written a number of articles on art and city space for a number of architectural and urban publications.
Morten Stræde’s career began when he assumed a prominent position on the 1980ies art scene alongside “The new Sculpture” and “The wild Painters”. As a contemporary sculptor, Morten Stræde is recognised for his abstract forms and serious dedication to working with aesthetic problems in art. The principal -isms of the 1980ies, such as deconstructivism and post-modernism, fostered this approach to sculpturing. Artists in the 1980ies intellectualised their art by integrating elements from intellectual vocations such as literature, semiotics and philosophy. Particular inspirations were the French philosophers Jean Baudrillard and Jean-François Lyotard and Italian philosopher Mario Perniola.
Due to this intellectualisation Stræde’s work can seem difficult to access, as it is in strong contrast to classical monumental sculptures and modernist pieces. In accordance with the philosophical movement of the era, Stræde’s work is therefore impenetrable, plural and complex, providing opportunities for many interpretations and perceptions. He believes that imbedded in this very density lays the true potentials of insight of the artwork. Subsequently Stræde regards all spaces and locations as complex combinations of meaning and his sculptures examine this complexity by incorporating a wide range of time and spaces within the piece. Since the 1980ies Stræde main focus has been on the question of the intricacy of space. In effect this means that every location is positioned in a complex relationship to other locations, just as each moment is constantly penetrated by other moments, consequently postponing the actual moment and making it indistinct. Stræde claims that it is impossible to clear or frame a space in a sculptural sense without including the surrounding images, experiences and memories that become sucked into the pieces like a black hole. Morten Stræde has worked on subjects such as location, space, time and memory in his first sculptures and later in collaborations about architecture and city planning throughout his career.
The artistic approach of Morten Stræde is based on a system of geometrical and mathematical structures. These form the foundations for his sculptures because the systems challenge the artist not to plan in advance or predict how the artwork will develop, thus forcing the artist to forget routine solutions and preconceived ideas. The strength of this system is the ability to question the artist and allow inspiration from unknown aspects and new influences from things that over the years can become predictable and recognisable processes. Stræde has also applied the system method on a lager scale in a series of sculptures, where each sculpture is constructed by an independent system within a collective system. Another distinguishing feature in Stræde’s artistic method is the plurality of references in his titles. They act as a kind of code to decipher the numerous levels of interpretation and affluence of matter in his pieces. The titles often have a literary reference, as in HOMECITY, where one sculpture is entitled Leviathan, referring to the social theory Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes written in 1651. The actual structure of Leviathan is reflected in the sculpture that should not be seen as an illustration of book. In the literary references Stræde provides indications of his intention with his work. In this exhibition Morten Stræde is a sculptor and artist whose work assumes architectural forms, containing clear and professionally substantial reflections on architecture and memory.
By Anne-Mette Gjeraa, MA. Modern Culture og Cultural Promotion.