H.A. Brendekilde (1857-1942)
On his arrival in 1885, Brendekilde was the first truly artistic employee. Brendekilde was a social realist painter and one of Denmark's leading designers, designing products for Odense Glassworks. He worked closely with Herman August Kähler. Their collaboration consisted in H.A. Kähler throwing the wares and Brendekilde decorating them with flowers, animals and figures from fairytales. The greatest influence that Brendekilde had on the Kähler workshop was probably as an artistic motivator and attraction for a group of other artists. Brendekilde was at Kähler until 1907.
L.A. Ring (1854-1933)
Laurids Andersen, also known as L.A. Ring, after his hometown of Ring just south of Næstved, was a member of the group of artists surrounding H.A. Brendekilde. He did landscapes and stayed at Brendekilde's haouse for a short period of time and thus was introduced to Kähler. Ring thought that it might me interesting to give ceramics a try. However, his ceramic career resulted in not more than 10 or 12 pieces and it never really took off.
Like Brendekilde, his greatest influence on the Kähler workshop was his connection to cultural life. L.A. Ring married the daugther of H.A. Kähler, Sigrid Kähler, and thus he became a member of the group of artists surrounding Kähler. He often painted situations from the workshop or the family, for example, Lamplight, which portrays his wife, Sigrid, and the base of a lamp (allegedly his own creation) with octopus arms. The painting is now at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
The painting shows Hermen Augusst Kähler in the workshop.
P.S. Krøyer (1851-1909)
What Skagen was to art of painting, Næstved and Kähler's workshop were to ceramics, and the two were linked via the acclaimed Skagen painter P.S. Krøyer, who painted serveral portraits of his friend H.A. Kähler the potter's wheel in Næstved workshop. He also portrayed Kähler visiting Skagen in 1901. Both painting exude warmth and light and are displayed at the Næstved Museum. The painting, by P.S. Krøyer, shows Herman August Kähler at the potter's wheel.
Karl Hansen Reistrup (1863-1929)
After having left the Royal Danish Porcelain Factory, painter Karl Hansen Reistrup needed new challenges, and he kindly accepted an invitation to com eto work for Kähler. He was hired as a painter and modeller in 1888, and moved into an attic room at the factory and began a close and intensive cooperation with H.A. Kähler, which continued until the next generation of the Kähler family took over the workshop.
Reistrup drew and modelled designs that Kähler then turned. All figures were cast in plaster to facilitate mass production. Kähler's great results in developing red lustre were reflected in Reistrup's work. Some of his early animal vases were in this colour and sold at the 1889Exhibition Universelle in Paris. One of them, the Elephant Vase, is now in the bedroom of Queen Margrethe of Denmark, where it is used as a lamp base.
Reistrup was very fond of animals and created an entire menagery in ceramics. He put cats, ducks and fish on bowls and frogs on ashtrays. He was particulary fond of lions, as reflected in his homorous figure Lion's Lunch, depicting a lion looking greatly satisfied after having eaten a humas being. Later, Reistrup undertook huge ornamentation works all around the country, but he remained a regular visitor to the Kähler workshop.
The painting shows Reistrup and H.A. Kähler at the Exhibition Universelle.
Thorvald Bindebøll (1846-1908)
The archtect Thorvald Bindesbøll had a brief stay at the Kähler workshop in 1890 and 1891. L.A. Ring had tempted him to come to Næstved, and the stayed at the Kähler workshop on two occasions during those years. But none of the objects he produced became major works. His finest piece was probably an earthenware jar with sgraffiti (scratched patterns) and slipping. Today, it is displayed at the Danish Museum of Decorative Art. During his second period at the Kähler workshop, Bindesbøll made an altar of glazed earthenware for a church in the city of Herining. Though Bindesbøll's stays at the Kähler workshop were brief, he remained in contact with Kähler for a long time afterwards.
Svend Hammershøi (1873-1948)
Svend Hammershøi was a designer, painter and trained ceramicist. He began working as an artistic designer at Kåahler in 1893 and remained there until his death. When he first came to Kähler, his number one goal was to learn the art of designing, so he stayed close to the potter's wheel. In 1904 he began working exclusively for Kähler and he then left it to the masters to do the work. They included Old Olsen and three generations of the Kähler family: Herman August, Hermen H.C. and Nils Kähler. Hammershøi's special skill was the striking profilling, horizontally and vertically, which he did on a large number of jars and bowls. This feature was present throughout his entire production.
At some point, Hammershøi revived terracotta - unglazed, burnt red clay that was sawdust fired in a muffle furnace. With this technique, he created a smoked surface, which was sometimes given a coat of wax or oil. After a number of years at the workshop, he became increasingly interested in large jars and floor vases made of unglazed red clay. This pleased Nils Kähler, the master at the time, who loved to throw large objects. Moreover, Hammershøi's work is associated with the white-grey-black pieces, created in cooperation with Jens Thirslund.
Jens Thirslund (1892-1942)
Jens Thirslund came to Kähler in 1913 at the invitation of a friend. Though he had no formal artistic education, he had a natural talent for sketching, fuelled by his strong interest in art. Thirslund created his very own world of motifs - anything from flowers to women, animals and ships - which he transferred to pots and tiles. He also drew sketches on whatever paper he came across, often wrapping paper.
The major part of Thirslund's production was in wall tiles. A great number of these patterned, slipped tiles were porduced at the workshop. He was eager to learn and had a great passion for ceramics that made him want to explore lusture firing. He spent many nights covered in soot and smoke in order to explore firing processes. That is how he came across the black-white tin glaze, which was used to decorate many of Hammerhøi's pieces. He held one-man exhibitions in Amsterdam and New York, but participated in other exhibitions in Paris, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden and Belgium.
Thirslund played an important role in the Kähler history. In addition to his own works, he was an entrepreneur, developer and source of inspiration to many other artists, including Hammershøi and Kai Nielsen.
Kai Nielsen (1882-1924)
The sculptor Kai Nielsen visited Kähler for the first time in 1921, only three years before his death. During those three years, he was very productive, but many of his works were discarded due to his extreme self-criticism. His ambition was to achieve a broad reach. He would rather have sold his works and produced thousands of copies than to have had them on display in a museum. He produced a number of small figures, which were copies of his larger sculptures in order to disseminate knowledge of hos art, which people helped boost his earnings.
Nielsen teamed with Thirslund and organized a large production of figures in 1922. These figures were made in old bronze moulds, which had previously been used to cast bronze moulds. Their names were just as creative as the manufacturing process: The Sloth, Susanne in the Bath, The Princess on the Pea, Eve on the Apple, Nina on the ball and The Globetrotter, to mention a few. The figures became very popular in Denmark and abroad. After a trip to Denmark, a dealer bought The Princess on the Pea back with him to San Francisco and put it on display in his shop, but an American women organisation was strongly opposed to it on the ground that the figure had her abdomen thrust forward.
Even though Nielsen's objective was to bring art to the people, the question is whether he was actually known for this work. Most people will probably remember him for his large sculptures such as The Water Mother, which is located in the winther garden at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen.