Gravesen’s work went unnoticed for decades until it was rediscovered by author Sune Riishede in two 1960s Danish furniture advertisements. The present lot was made during his time in New York and is representative of his mature work. It illustrates his mastery over both medium and form, pulsates with simultaneously frenetic yet controlled energy, and inhabits that nebulous space between sculpture and fine art.

Fog & Mørup advertisement featuring an Oluf Gravesen wall panel

Property from a New York Collection

Eclectic and whimsical, this diverse collection was assembled with an eye for aesthetics and features everything from folk art and fine art to industrial ephemera and vintage advertising signs. Among the most unique pieces are a life-size folk art Harley Davidson motorcycle sculpture and a gold-plated Roccanti racing bicycle. Highlights include works by Dustin Yellin, Lowell Nesbitt, Karl Springer, William Kent, and Jesse Howard.

Oluf Gravesen 1943–1987

Precious little is known about Oluf Gravesen’s life and career. In 1961 at the age of eighteen, Gravesen was the youngest person ever to be admitted to the Danish Royal Academy’s Spring Exhibition, where he exhibited three scrap metal reliefs. He then had a successful solo exhibition in the mid-1960s at Den Permanente, which brought him to the attention of important stylists and clients such as the Danish Furniture Manufacturer’s Association and Fog & Mørup. Over time, his oeuvre morphed from metal reliefs to panels decorated entirely with nails and he went on to work predominantly in Paris, London, and New York, lessening both his impact and recognition in Denmark. A serious illness led him to return to Denmark in the mid-1980s. He died shortly thereafter, his tragically premature death—marked only by close family and friend—cutting short what was sure to become a long and successful career.
(photo by Ray Dean Photography via

Auction Results Oluf Gravesen