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p.v. jensen-klint 05, grundtvig memorial church 1913-1940

jensen-klint's main work, the grundtvig memorial church northwest of copenhagen, is often named as an example of expressionist architecture.

we should always be suspicious of categories in art and the partial blindness they induce, but few categories carry more misunderstandings and nonsense than expressionism.

with jensen-klint, I believe the term should be avoided altogether. we are looking at a neo-gothic church. the great change in scale between the church and the surrounding housing has been compared with the expressionist idea of a stadtkrone but a similar contrast can be found in the contemporary work of heinrich tessenow.

the highly expressive and original tripart tower is the architect's attempt to design a tower that would connect organically with the nave and two aisles of the basic basilica plan. the problem of how to assemble tower and nave is as old as the christian building type itself and jensen-klint's solution was born on his 60th birthday in 1913 as the result of a deep personal and creative crisis.

unable to secure commissions, he decided to develop his ideas to their full extent on paper instead. in a sense, he was giving up his career but the move proved liberating to his talent. he entered his next church design, done entirely without a brief or a client, into the 1913 competition for a grundtvig memorial and lost. to a statue.

a week later, in an exceptional turn of events, the jury admitted to have made a mistake and announced that jensen-klint's church was to be built.

the project attracted a lot of international attention when first published and again in the 1920's when the tower was completed. I have read that it inspired many church designs across europe and north america but I have never seen a list.

hallgrímskirkja (1937-1986) in reykjavik is obvious, though, and named elsewhere in connection with klint:

iceland was a Danish colony until 1948 (the whole north atlantic colonial adventure is a dark chapter in our history and one that isn't over yet) so the influence here is more easily explained.

I am less sure about this one, Akureyrarkirkja (1940), also on iceland: www.flickr.com/photos/solveigzophoniasdottir/291511984/

but the art deco crowd seems to have had an eye for klint - as seen here in turner's cross which has been named in connection with the grundtvig church. it is by barry byrne (1931) and found in cork, ireland: www.flickr.com/photos/robandlucy/763443719/

I have read that there are also bastard children of the grundtvig church in poland and the US. haven't found them yet. in denmark there are plenty. most significantly, jensen-klint's son kaare klint who completed his father's projects continued building churches in the style which since became a school:


the jensen-klint set so far.

this photo was uploaded with a CC license and may be used free of charge and in any way you see fit.
if possible, please name photographer "SEIER+SEIER".
if not, don't.

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