Bjørn Wiinblad (1918–2006) was one of the most commercially successful Danish artists of the 60s and 70s, despite not being regarded by the design establishment of the time. His work is recognisable from his stylised figures and organic natural elements that formed decorative patterns – the opposite of the functional style of Denmark.
Although best known for his ceramics which he exhibited internationally, his success lead him to also to create poster designs (notably for the United Nations in Paris), textiles and sets for major theatrical performances.
1. HE REJECTED A TRADITIONAL CAREER
He initially trained as a typographer and then went to a fine art school, but found found both too restricting for his creative mind. It was his friend and fellow student Lars Syberg who introduced him to ceramics. While he wasn’t a natural potter, his ability to decorate was clear and he enjoyed exploring new techniques such as filling a cow’s horn with paint and running it over a pot or dish to create fine lines.
2. ACCESSIBLE TO ALL
Bjørn Wiinbladd was given his first break at the Nymølle earthenware factory. But Wiinblad faced criticism from his artist friends who thought he was selling out. However he liked that the ceramics being produced were affordable and that his designs could reach everyone – he wanted to bring joy to all homes.
3. HE HAD GLOBAL RECOGNITION
Recognition across Scandinavia lead to Bjørn Wiinblad being appointed as Artistic Director of the Rosenthal factory, in southern Germany. It cemented his international career which was unheard of for a Danish Artist.
4. HE ALWAYS PAINTED THE EYES
Despite the large number of pieces being made with the help of a studio team, Bjørn Wiinblad always painted the eyes on the women illustrated. Women are a consistent theme of his work and they showed a wide range of emotional nuances through their gaze.
5. PHILANTHROPIST, FRIEND AND ETERNAL HOST
He never had a family of his own but he was extremely sociable and would always help if he knew someone in financial difficulty. He would regularly host dinners and lavish parties inviting Danish and foreign authors, actors, ballet dancers and artists, diplomats, politicians and close friends. Sometimes he would invite people he simply thought would be interesting to meet.