• Artist: Iver Iversen Jåks
  • Creation date: 1999
  • Object type: Sculpture


Concerning his poetically titled sculpture Was – Is, Iver Jåks remarked that “although there is much in nature that is not pretty, nature as a whole is incredibly beautiful”. The National Museum owns two sculptures by Jåks, Before I Was II and Is, that revolve around the same existential theme. The two sculptures are small assemblages of various materials such as glass, stone, wood, and ironwood. Entirely abstract, they do not resemble anything from the real world, and seem at first glance to refer to nothing more than their constituent materials. Jåks, who worked in the media of sculpture, installation, print, and drawing, was of Norwegian Sami extraction, and a kinship to the Sami handicraft tradition of duodji is evident in several of his sculptures.

Jåks cultivated his own distinctive style, however, creating mostly abstract sculptures that inherently deal with universal concerns and existential questions. These sculptures are often composed of untreated materials taken directly from nature as objets trouvés, or nature trouvé, so to speak. Before I Was II, for example, consists of a hollow, white stone, a small twig, and a red shard of glass. The twig and the broken glass are placed inside the stone in such a way that they partially stick out from it. The stone serves thereby as a container that partly conceals and partly reveals its contents.Is something growing out from the stone? The sculpture is small but still contains a good deal, perhaps even an entire universe or something that existed before humankind. Jåks’s other sculpture here, Is, consists of two small items of glass and ironwood. The wood has been worked on, and is an object that we find in some of the sacred seide sculptures in Sami culture; it resembles a stake or a menhir, perhaps representing a person or a life.

Text: Randi Godø

From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0


Iver Iversen Jåks

Billedkunstner, Graphic artist, Craftsman

Born 1932 in Karasjok, death 2007

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Er (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Glass, tre, jerntre
Kjøpt 2002
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Complex object/artwork
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Thorkildsen, Morten
© Jåks, Iver Iversen/BONO