Aksel Jørgensen (1883–1957) was a Danish painter and wood engraver. He is also remembered for his years as a professor at the Royal Danish Academy where he instructed many of Denmark's most successful illustrators.
A natural talent, Jørgensen attended Frede Aamodt's private art school (1905–06) where he met Carl Jensen and Vilhelm Wils. He exhibited with De Tretten in 1909, presenting his preferred subjects of prostitutes and the destitute living in condemned buildings in the poorest quarters of Copenhagen, attracting the attention of the press. He was also noted for his engravings, characterized by large areas of light and shade and by his use of the grain of the wood, as in his portrait of the writer Jens Pedersen (1908). Together with Storm P., he founded the satirical journal Gnisten (1908), contributing his own sketches. In 1941, he was awarded the Thorvaldsen Medal for his Prostitution.
From 1909 to 1914, Jørgensen worked on a large series of works illustrating Holger Drachmann's life and poetry for the Drachmann Inn in Frederiksberg. He produced no less than 29 woodcuts during the period, some with multilayered colouring. The art collector Christian Tetzen-Lund commissioned a large group of his works, now characterized by both Rembrandt and, increasingly, Impressionism, inspired by his experience of Cézanne's. work during his travels in 1910. From 1920, he concentrated on composition and perspective, developing the use of colour for still-lifes and figure paintings. Important series included works for the student dormitory Studentergården (1921–23), the cinema Vesterbros Bio (1942) and Arbejdermuseet (1955). His most extensive project consisted of some 50 illustrations for Adam Oehlenschläger's Nordens Guder, published in 1929. It took him many years to engrave the woodcuts and several of his pupils were involved in the technical work. The work had a mixed reception but he was complemented by the French pointillist Paul Signac. He also completed a wide range of portraits including that of the politician Frederik Borgbjerg (1949). In 1935, he became a member of Den Frie Udstilling, an alternative exhibition forum.
Aksel Jørgensen's talents as a teacher were unknown when he was offered a post as professor at the Academy in 1920 which he retained until 1953. He encouraged his students to take account of trends across Europe, insisting on the importance of lines and geometrical figures. Special attention was given to composition and perspective based on the careful study of nature. He also organized travelling exhibitions for Danish schools.
Jørgensen played an important role in developing the status of graphical work in Denmark. It was he who took the initiative to integrate the graphics school as part of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and it was his work there which attracted important illustrators such as Henry Heerup, Richard Mortensen, Ib Spang Olsen, and many others. His graphical work is notable both technically and artistically.
- "Aksel Jørgensen", Den Store Danske. (in Danish) Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- Eva de la Fuente Pedersen, "Aksel Jørgensen", Kunstindeks Danmark & Weilbachs kunstnerleksikon. (in Danish) Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- Gertrud Købke Sutton, "Grundig og saglig", Information.dk, 10 December 2002. (in Danish) Retrieved 22 February 2013.