Jais Nielsen was a prominent Danish painter, ceramist, and designer born in Copenhagen in 1885. He was also known as Johannes Knud Ove Jais Nielsen. Nielsen initially trained as a craftsman painter and then attended the Kunstnernes Frie Studieskoler from 1907-1909 where he studied under renowned artists Kristian Zahrtmann and Johan Rohde.
In 1911, Nielsen moved to Paris, where he lived and worked until 1914. It was during this time that he was introduced to Cubism, which had a significant impact on his artistic style. Upon returning to Denmark, he moved away from his earlier angular figure paintings in muted colors and began producing brightly colored, flat, and decorative paintings that were sometimes characterized by a futuristic dynamic. One of his notable works during this period was 'Afgang!' (1918), which is now part of the collection at Storstrøms Kunstmuseum.
Nielsen continued to travel extensively throughout his life and spent time in Italy in 1920, where he worked on both modern and traditional frescoes, including those in Sankt Elisabeth Hospital in Sundby (1928-35) and Frederiksberg City Hall (1952-56). Additionally, he produced stained glass windows for several churches.
Nielsen's most significant success came with his ceramic works, which included both utility objects and ceramic sculptures. In 1917, he joined the Den Frie Udstilling, and in 1921, he became associated with Den Kgl. Porcelainsfabrik, where he produced his most famous ceramic works, including 'The Potter' (1925) and 'Venus Rising from the Sea' (1917). Nielsen's ceramics were characterized by their simplicity, elegance, and attention to detail, and he played a significant role in defining the modern Danish design aesthetic.
Nielsen was the recipient of numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Eckersberg Medal in 1929 and the Thorvaldsen Medal in 1948. He passed away in 1961 in Copenhagen, but his legacy continues to be celebrated today. His artwork and designs are highly sought after by collectors and design enthusiasts worldwide, and his influence on Danish design can still be seen in contemporary Danish design today.