Enamel artist Inger Hanmann

Written by Niklas Søgaard the

At KLASSIK we have recently acquired a unique collection from the estate of the Danish enamel artist Inger Hanmann (1918-2007), which gives us the opportunity to highlight Denmark's greatest modern enamel artist.


Inger Hanmann (née Frimann Clausen) grew up in a home where music and art played a significant role in her everyday life. At an early age, she showed an interest and talent for drawing and, at her father's encouragement, she went to Copenhagen to study at the Drawing and Art Institute for Women between 1935 and 1938. It was here that she immersed herself in the work of great European artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as well as the modern music scene, which turned out to be a major influence on Hanmann and her works. Her strong preoccupation with music, from classical to jazz to pure pop, is evident in her enamel works in particular.

< Left: Unique blue enamel sculpture on black painted stone base. Signed.
> Right: Unique blue enamel sculpture with three adjustable elements. Signed.

Inger Hanmann married the painter Poul Hanmann and got their children Marianne and Charlotte, both of whom became recognized photographers. Poul and Inger lived in cramped conditions in a small apartment for almost 30 years, but they managed to make money by teaching drawing at night schools and Inger Hanmann also took on assignments as a fashion illustrator for several Copenhagen magazines. This gave them the opportunity to move to Frederiksberg, where they later each had their own studio.


< Left: Composition of crayon on paper. Signed.
> Right: Bowl in sterling silver with enamel. Stamped.

Hanmann's educational base in the late 1940s and early 1950s was at the painting school of Peter Rostrup Bøyesen (1882-1952), who had previously trained the artist Mogens Andersen (1916-2003) from 1933 to 1939. It was there that she developed her interest in landscape and interior painting, which characterized Hanmann's early art. During the 1950s, the pure interest in color, sensory impressions and composition came to the fore. Direct observation of nature was no longer the focal point for Hanmann. And it was during this period that she began experimenting with metal and enamel, which became a new artistic challenge for her.


< Left: Unique white enamel sculpture on painted blue base. Signed.
> Right: Small composition of crayon on canvas. Signed.



This was the beginning of an extensive and multifaceted body of work and a large number of pioneering decorative works, which were produced both in Schou's factories and in her own workshop. Her experiments attracted attention and led to collaborations with A. Michelsen's and Georg Jensen's silversmiths, where she translated her painterly talents into a series of original enamel works.

Her experimental approach to enamel came when Marius Schou, director of C. Schous Fabrikker (C. Shou’s Factories), encouraged her to experiment with industrial enamel techniques. He encouraged her to experiment with an artistic use of the industrial enamel technique used at the Ravnholm Emaljeværk (Ravnholm Enamel Works), of which he was the owner. The enamel factory was responsible for most of Denmark's production of license plates and road signs, and in 1958 Danmarks Radio (Denmark’s national TV station) made a short report from the factory. See it here.



< Left: Unique red enamel sculpture on black painted metal base. Signed.
> Right: Mixed media composition on canvas with oil paint and sand.


The technique of enameling - burning glass onto metal or silver - has been known since ancient times, and in medieval Europe, highly refined jewelry was made from enamel. But it is not this type of small-scale art that Hanmann was interested in. On the contrary, it seems that her fascination with the potential of enamel technique is linked to the exciting chemistry, senses and playfulness with color effects and surface effects.


< Left: Unique wall-hung enamel piece with patinated steel frame. Signed.
> Right: Large oil painting on canvas with white, yellow and blue details. Signed.

Inger Hanmann's works are often created in connection with architecture, where she has created 'the world's largest enamel sculpture' for the headquarters of Danske Bank in connection with their 100th anniversary, a 100 square meter large enamel decoration for Copenhagen Airport in 1989 and several works for Glostrup City Hall, Hotel Opalen, the textile company Crome & Goldschmidt and not least a 15 meter high, moving sculpture for the Danish Embassy in Berlin in 1999. Numerous exhibitions at national and international level have consolidated Inger Hanmann's position as an interesting non-figurative artist.

Discover our available works by Denmark's modern enamel artist here.