Hack Kampmann’s Antiquity

The Temple of Concordia” (March 1886), Agrigento, by Hack Kampmann.

Hack Kampmann (1856-1920) is one of the most renowned Danish pre-modernist architects. He entered the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1873, and was later responsible for designing several celebrated buildings in Aarhus, including Toldkammeret (1895), the theatre (1900) and the old State Library (1902).

Southwestern corner of the Parthenon cornice (dated to 11 February 1875).

The Danish Art Library has made some fantastic scans available of some of Kampmann’s drawings, several with classical motifs, mostly from his early years at the Academy, and which I reproduce here. Not included in this archive are Kampmann’s extraordinary watercolours from Pompeii, including reconstructions of the House of Cornelius Rufus and the Stabian baths based on his visit in April 1886.

More generally, however, Kampmann’s relationship with classical antiquity was more ambivalent than predecessors such as Christian Hansen (1803-1883) and influenced by other historicists, not least Vilhelm Dahlerup (1836-1907). This is evident from a letter that Kampmann wrote from Berlin in November 1885 (cited here from Nørskov 2008, 87, in my translation):

The architecture that is now put to use throughout the civilised world is born under the bright days and warm sun of the south, and it will never become a real truth  [“rigtig Sandhed”] among us. People would never be able to understand it and relate to it only in ignorance…The earthen huts of the past were better architecture for us northerners than today’s buildings with arches and columns…

It required the nudging of Carl Jacobsen to join him and Ottilia to travel to Greece in spring 1887. Here Kampmann became part of a group of illustrious contemporaries handpicked by Jacobsen, such as the art historian Julius Lange, the archaeologist Sophus Müller, and the Egyptologist Valdemar Schmidt. They travelled from Brindisi to Corfu and then Corinth before arriving in Athens on 16 March. In a letter Kampmann describes his visit to the Athenian acropolis and is frank about his ignorance of its history (cited from Gehl & Soldbro 2015, 232, in my translation):

For me the main interest lies with the Acropolis, the old castle of Athens, with the sadly partly destroyed remains of sanctuaries from a very distant time, the history of which I know nothing about. But if this does such an impression on me, an ignorant animal, and more than anything I have previously seen, which feelings would one have when walking on such sacred places if one came more prepared and knowing about everything that has happened here through the centuries, right up until our days.

Kampmann and the others continued to Delphi and even the mountains of the Peloponnese where by happy incident he ended up recording a contemporary farmhouse at Tripi west of Sparta in some detail (Gehl & Soldbro 2015, 232-4). Although he could not wait to return to Italy, Kampmann used his experiences from Greece when he later became professor at the Academy in 1908, lecturing on the “visual effects of Greek temples.”

This drawing, dated to 1876, appears to be based on an etching by another artist.
Reconstruction of “The Temple of Poseidon“, Paestum (1913, by William Jerndorff, under the supervision of Hack Kampmann)

For more on Kampmann’s use of classical motifs and his travels in the Mediterranean, see Vinnie Nørskov, “Århus Teater: Hack Kampmann og antikken”, in id. (ed.) Antikken i Århus (2008), pp. 84-93, and Elisabeth Gehl & Marie Louise Kampmann Soldbro, Hack Kampmann. Del 1: De unge år belyst gennem tegninger, akvareller og breve (2015).

Bodrum – “City of Immortal Love” and Other News

The “Artemisia” (source: Bodrum Belediyesi).

In our recent paper on Bodrum and Karian heritage, we noted the general absence of local street or place names named after Maussollos and/or Artemisia.

Well, things change quickly in Bodrum sometimes. In Summer 2020, no less than two exhibition halls were inaugurated by Bodrum Municipality; one named after Maussollos and the other, Artemisia (some images below). The Halicarnassus Rowing Club also has a new boat named “Artemisia” that was put out to sea in 2021. Thanks to Lacin (Karaoz) for the tips.

The Maussollos Exhibition Hall (source: Bodrum Belediyesi).
The “Artemisia” Exhibition Hall (source: Gümüslük Rehberi).

The last bit of Bodrum news is well-intentioned but a little creepy: The municipality recently used the brother-and-sister team of Maussollos and Artemisia for their valentine’s greetings. Bodrum – the “city of immortal love.”

Cemetery Classicisms in Copenhagen

Last week I explored classical heritage in the context of a crematorium in a 20th-century cemetery in Aarhus. This post presents a few comparative examples of classical heritage from Copenhagen’s Assistens Kirkegård in the Nørrebro neighbourhood. The one above is one of my favourites: the tombstone of Peter Christian Abildgaard (1740-1801). The inscription lists his achievements as a scientist (which included making a hot-air balloon!), civil servant, citizen, and human being, in that order. It also refers to his date of death through the wonderfully poetically phrase, “hvor Døden lukkede hans blide Øje” (“when death closed his gentle eyes”). Below the text is a relief of the Ephesian Artemis (with a slightly unusual light house placed on her head) by Peter Christian’s little brother, Nicolai Abildgaard (1743-1809). The social “circle” of Danish classicism was always very small.

The second example (below) makes another striking reference to a famous classical statue, specifically Kephisodotos’ Eirene, here depicted with not one (Ploutos) but two infants to really hammer home the message of abundance. There’s more that you probably ever want to learn about the graves in Assistens Kirkegård in this 1000-page catalogue: Assistens 250 (2010).

The Archaeology of the Dubplate

This post is part of “Iconoclasm Weekend”, an occasional series of more or less off-topic posts to appear on Saturdays.

As commodified archives, online auction houses are full of discarded stuff from the past. If you scavenge through this stuff, you may be able to get closer to things that were once completely out of reach to you, such as dubplates, typically one-off 10″ acetates with unreleased music and now mostly considered to be relics of a time before streaming, CDRs and USBs took over. Yet the dubplate remains a uniquely important cultural signifier within reggae sound systems as well as “golden age” drum and bass, the genre of electronic music that in the early- to mid-1990s began to combine sped-up, sampled breakbeats, the basslines of Jamaican dub, and elements of Detroit and Chicago techno, and that we will focus on here.

Resident Advisor has produced this nice little introduction to dubplate culture and its development from King Tubby to today. To quote from the introduction, “vinyl was the thing“; the thing in all sorts of ways, I would add, and there is some value in looking also at dubplates from the perspective of material culture. (Here is another interesting write-up on dubplates, the title of which again speaks to their materiality: “Dreams rendered in metal“).

As an archetypical form of symbolic capital, dubplates were much more than a medium for new pieces of music. The reputations of genre figureheads, such as Grooverider and Doc Scott, were indeed built around the mystique of having new tracks (“tunes”) that others did not. Similar to inalienable possessions, these dubplates were shared at particular moments but ultimately remained with the DJ. At the same time (and in a very Maussian sense), dubplates established and defined the relationships between specific DJs and the producers that gave them a DAT to cut to acetate (especially at the time before producer-DJs had conquered the world of electronic music).

Generic Music House label sticker for a dubplate, referencing the studio’s Jamaican heritage.

Looking at the dubplates themselves, they typically carry only generic white labels, in some cases with the name and address of the cutting studio (and very often also the title of a track penned by the owner, adding to the highly personal nature of the object). Fundamental to the culture of dubplates was indeed the preservation of secrecy by seeking to hide the identity of new, unreleased tracks. Adding to their elusive nature is the fact that acetates eventually wear out and become unplayable.

Some dubplates took years to come out officially. And some, of course, never did, later giving rise to a culture of “dubplate remakes“, all sorts of lo-fi SoundCloud pirate archives, as well as nostalgia-led labels, such as “Deep Jungle“, “Speed” and “Dubs from the Dungeons“, the latter even releasing gold-coloured vinyl to emphasise the theme of hidden treasure.

If the dubplate is the thing that defines this culture, the defining place was Music House, the mastering studio in London that in the 1990s was home to a close-knit, multi-cultural community of DJs and musicians that were hanging out, smoking and cutting new tracks. The “Talkin’ Headz” documentary (1998) provides a funny little window into this community and the people and places of their “urban style music” – specifically the Metalheadz label, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and the Sunday Sessions at the Blue Note club in Hoxton Square where so many classic dubplates were first played out – as well as a moment in time when everything felt brand new and London really was the cosmopolitan centre of the world.

Konstantinos Zachos on the Actium Victory Monument

Here’s an interesting online presentation by Konstantinos Zachos on the excavations of the Augustan victory monument at Nikopolis that revealed thousands of fragments of Pentelic marble sculpture (with some comments on deliberate destruction at around the 33-minute mark). Thanks to Carsten (Hjort Lange) for the tip.

Teaching Thursday: Contexts of Classical Sculpture

One of the fun things I’m doing this semester is teaching a new graduate seminar for our graduate students in classical archaeology on “Contexts of Classical Sculpture.” With them previously having been schooled in the basics of chronology and style, the seminar dives straight into current discussions about the meanings and uses of “context” in the study of sculpture and introduces them to a selection of new approaches and methods, including global, comparative agendas. To some extent, the course represents my own response to some of the issues that I address here. The short version of the course syllabus is available below.

“Contexts of Classical Sculpture” consists of 11 three-hour weekly sessions, eight of which are meant to prepare and inspire the students for their own presentations (and later, final exam) in which they will work with specific case studies of their own choosing and put some of the approaches and methods that we’ve covered into practice.

In the first couple of sessions we’ve discussed some of the ways in which two recent “handbooks” on classical sculpture may or may not reflect the state of the field more broadly: De Gruyter’s Handbook of Greek Sculpture, edited by Olga Palagia (2019), and OUP’s Handbook of Roman Sculpture, edited by Elise Friedland, Melanie Sobocinski and Elaine Gazda (2015). Whereas Palagia begins in a traditional vein with the textual record and then turns to function, portraits, style, regional variation, the impact of Rome, techniques, and “afterlife”, the OHRS first looks at collecting, conservation and museum display as three very important “filters” to how we view the sculptural record.

We’ve also explored the spectrum of archaeological “contextualism” – from the perspectives of the Robin Osborne/James Whitley debate in JMA, Chris Chippindale/David Gill’s AJA dossier on the state of collecting, Liz Marlowe’s insistence on working with and from grounded objects, and, way at the other end of that spectrum, Philippe Montebello’s “two percent“.

The case studies that we will proceed to in coming weeks are a little idiosyncratic but reflect some of my own current and past interests. Ideally they should bring together both legacy and new data with more systematic forms of archaeological documentation. In reality, the selection of sites does not matter too much as they are meant to be paradigmatic of different approaches and inspire the students to ask new questions about assemblages from altogether different sites. Feedback welcome!


The “Mausoleum” of Nordre Kirkegård, III: The End

To conclude this little series on the “Mausolleion” of Nordre Kirkegård, here are some images taken in July 1946 during the demolition of the crematorium (part one, part two). The first image shows demolition in progress – with two workers on top of the pyramid – and gives some more detail of the relief decoration that I will be trying to track down. The final image from the 1946 series shows the view from the top of the stepped roof (with some very visible leftover signage from World War II on a nearby rooftop). All of these are taken from Aarhusarkivet.dk. The post concludes with a photo of the site as it appeared on the last day of February 2021, a beautiful, sunny Sunday.

One may find some consolation in the fact is that there remain plenty of other possibilities to see Kühnel’s buildings in Aarhus, such as Rømerhus (very recently overhauled as a Bestseller store), Mejlborg, Kasino-Theatret (now Svalegangen) and the fire station in Ny Munkegade, even if none of these use such specific references to individual classical monuments as the Nordre Kirkegård crematorium. I have quite a bit more to say about Kühnel’s “Mausoleum” which is going into a forthcoming paper. Watch this space.

The site of the “Nordre Kirkegård Mausoleum” in February 2021 (photo: TMK).

The “Mausoleum” of Nordre Kirkegård, II: Drawings

Following up on yesterday’s post, here are Kühnel’s beautiful 1918 drawings of the crematorium that he designed for Nordre Kirkegård in Aarhus and that stood for little more than 20 years. The drawings are easily available from the municipality’s “Min Ejendom” archive (in the entry for Kirkegårdsvej 26). The image of Kühnel below is from the Royal Libary’s photographic archive. There is also a brief passage on the crematorium in the multi-volume Danmarks Kirker.

Danmarks Kirker also has an additional drawing of the crematorium that shows some of the relief decoration that adorned the tower (and which is clearly taken from Kühnel’s original). The reliefs were by the prolific local aritst Elias Ølsgaard and represented, on the four faces of the tower, Nativity, Jesus healing a blind man, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

The “Mausoleum” of Nordre Kirkegård, Aarhus

Reconstruction drawing of the Maussolleion by Charles Robert Cockerell (Source: BM).

The Maussolleion of Halikanassos – and especially its stepped, pyramidal roof – has inspired all sorts of public architecture in the modern world. Buildings from London to Los Angeles and Melbourne have thus been part of a global discourse of classicism rooted in this (lost) wonder of the ancient world. A well-known Danish example is Hack Kampmann’s 1906 extension of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

A much less known example is the old, short-lived crematorium in Aarhus’ Nordre Kirkegård, one of the municipal cemeteries in Aarhus Kommune. The crematorium was designed by the architect Sophus Frederik Kühnel (1851-1930) and inaugurated in 1923. After a new crematorium was built in the basement of the cemetery chapel in 1941, the old one was (sadly) demolished.

This was in fact the second Maussolleion-inspired building in Aarhus. The first had been a more humble component of the National Exhibition of 1909 (as we briefly discuss in this book). The first images below are taken from Aarhusbilleder.dk; the second batch is from the Aarhusarkivet.dk.