THE EXHIBITION ON IB ANTONI
The Making of 'Wonderful Copenhagen'
Poster Artist Ib Antoni
April 1st – October 31st 2023 at The Museum of Copenhagen
Stormgade 18, 1555 Copenhagen V.
On the 50th anniversary of the death of the artist, the Museum of Copenhagen presents the man Ib Antoni in the context of the world and time he lived in. Original drawings and designs never shown before are exhibited alongside iconic works that put Denmark and its products firmly on the world map. The exhibition is the first of its kind, showing not only a wide selection of Antoni’s famous posters and designs, but also tracing his artistic process from sketches to the final version. Letters and personal belongings invite visitors to go behind the scenes, meet the man who made the works, and get inside the creative mind of the artist – from the first scribbled lines on a napkin to the finished poster. Come and enjoy the images that went worldwide, as well as those that never left the drawing board. Antoni’s works offer insight into the post-war era, when Copenhagen was to be made “wonderful”, even though life wasn't necessarily so.
THE GREAT DANE
Ib Antoni (1929-1973) died at the peak of his career as a commercial artist, famous worldwide as ‘The Great Dane’.
He designed hundreds of iconic posters, and played a key role in the group that created the large-scale advertising campaign launched to sell Denmark and ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’ during the post-war period. The campaign was a huge success, and tourists flocked to Copenhagen. From New York to Monte Carlo, Ib Antoni’s posters were on the streets of capital cities worldwide – and he too travelled the globe, working for some of the world’s leading advertising agencies.
Ib Antoni’s drawings lay in an attic for four decades as his name was gradually forgotten. His death in 1973 in a tragic fire at the Hafnia Hotel in central Copenhagen – one of the largest Copenhagen fires in modern times – resulted in the story of his life and art being packed away. Until 2009, when his nephew Anton started unpacking the suitcases his life had been sealed in, and together with gallery owner Mikael Hauberg embarked on the dream of bringing Ib Antoni’s works back into the world.
In 2001 Sara Alfort, in collaboration with Antoni Legacy, brought his story to life in the book The Man Who Drew Denmark – the starting point for the exhibition.
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of Ib Antoni’s death, and the year the Museum of Copenhagen presents the artist, the period he lived in, and his drawings in exhibition form.
Sprinkling Stardust on a Shabby City
The Danish capital Ib Antoni encountered in the 1950s and the decades that followed was a city developing in leaps and bounds.
New homes and new businesses were being built, not only in the historical city centre, but also the neighbourhoods surrounding it. Copenhagen had been largely spared the damage and destruction of World War II, but many buildings from the 1700s and 1800s, as well as the city’s stately buildings and monuments, were run down and worn out. Even Amalienborg Palace, the royal residence in the capital, was covered in soot and falling apart.
This was the city Ib Antoni was going to help make “wonderful” to appeal to tourists. Contemporary photographs in the exhibition show the contrast between what the city actually looked like and his idealised fairy-tale images – images that are much closer to the city that greets visitors to Copenhagen today than they were back then.
“His posters are razor-sharp – still. That’s what defines good art. Whether you pass by in a car, on a bike or on foot, you have to get the message across loud and clear. And Ib Antoni really knew how to do that. A huge name – no doubt about it. Ib deserves to be in the spotlight again,” says Peder Stougaard, founder of the Danish Poster Museum.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the Museum of Copenhagen and Antoni Legacy, who represents the artist and his works.