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Danish Art Museum Founder Dies

December 12, 2000

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ Knud W. Jensen, the cheese salesman who quit his job to found what later became Denmark’s renowned museum of modern art Louisiana, died Tuesday. He was 84.

The museum, located 20 miles north of Copenhagen, has won international recognition for its collection that includes works by Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

Jensen died in his sleep after a brief illness, said museum spokeswoman Susanne Hartz.

Born in Copenhagen, Jensen took over his father’s cheese wholesale company in 1944 but sold it 12 years later to dedicate his life to modern arts.

In 1958, he bought an old villa, called the Louisiana estate, which is surrounded by a park overlooking the narrow Oresund Strait between Denmark and Sweden.

Jensen modernized the villa and created a museum with a collection of modern Danish art. Jensen immediately met criticism from arts circles that the museum was too far from the Danish capital and would not attract visitors.

Louisiana quickly became popular and today, about 512,000 people _ up to 40 percent of who are foreigners _ enter Denmark’s most visited museum of arts each year. Jensen lived in a wing of the museum.

Jensen quickly expanded the collection to include international artists representing schools from the 1960s’ New Realism and Pop Art to today’s so-called Installation Art.

Jensen is survived by his wife, Vivi. Funeral plans were not immediately announced.

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