Artist: Poul Gernes
Format: Vinyl LP, Limited Edition
Label: Penultimate Press
Catalogue #: PP7
Date Released: July 2013
Penultimate Press is proud to release a unique vinyl of the only known recordings by Danish artist Poul Gernes.
Poul Gernes only ever recorded just under 20 minutes of music. His entire musical production is therefore on this LP. The recording was done on a Tandberg Recorder at Poul Gernes’ house in the south of Sweden in 1969. He is playing an old harmonium salvaged from a local primary school. The result is an informal quasi-drone work, which, along with the ambient sounds and domestic interference, comes across as a snapshot of the recording itself, a sonic Polaroid.
Poul Gernes (1925-1996) was one of the central figures in Danish art life during the latter half of the twentieth century. His experimental art holds a firm place on an international level and as one of the founders of the legendary Den Eksperimenterende Kunstskole (The Experimenting Art School) he has exerted considerable influence on a whole generation of artists who make up the Danish post war avant garde. His wide-ranging body of work is still a source of inspiration for younger generations of artists in Denmark and abroad.
This recording was initiated by John Hunov who was the chairman of ‘Ung Dansk Kunst’ (Young Danish Art) an association for the presentation and publication of many Danish artists of the period. A series of cassettes were commissioned as a supply on demand service prompting Poul Gernes to instigate a musical work.
The recording was done during a prolific period of creativity and lingers in the current spirit of endless possibilities. The combination of an old harmonium and a tape recorder manifests a yet untried option: why not compose music as well? A child’s voice, his daughter Ulrikka, is heard making small remarks and pointing out when the needle enters the red. This audial domestic background is too included as an incidental yet natural part of the work as Poul Gernes saw no limit between art and life.
Poul Gernes’ major musical inspirations at the time were J.S. Bach, Terry Riley and Gregorian chant. An alleged encounter with John Cage and close collaborations with, for instance, composer and Fluxus artist Henning Christiansen are likely to have encouraged the musical endeavour. During the 1960s Poul Gernes also made a large number of happenings and performances, together with Per Kirkeby and Joseph Beuys.