Carl-Henning Pedersen : 1913-2007

'The Dream - 1947'

At  the end of the Thirties a group of artists in Denmark broke away from the naturalistic school of painting, and with great talent and courage created a new, expressionistic imagery. These were the artists which later established contact with international art circles through the COBRA group. Carl-Henning Pedersen is one of the most outstanding of these, and his art greatly influenced most of the members of the group. His poetic talent and particularly his appreciation of the expressive powers of colour have inspired him to paint pictures of great dramatic beauty and originality.
Carl-Henning Pedersen is a painter of phantasy and fairy-tale. He leads us into a strange world of fable populated by strange beings, weird horses and birds that fly away into a red dawn or under a golden star — where distant towers and fairy palaces appear as visions in the sky or in the deep blue of the sea. Although the soul of his painting is to be found not in his figures, but in the colours which magically illuminate his pictures. For him, colour is a mysterious, compelling force, a perpetual source of new discovery and delight. He is an artist for whom colour is poetry.
Born in Copenhagen in 1913 and poor, he decided to become a painter at an early age. He is self-taught, seeking from the beginning to develop his own style. Klee and Picasso meant something to him at first, but later he was drawn to Monet and the Neo-Impressionists. Primitive art has also provided him with inspiration, and he has written about the mediaeval murals in the churches of Sjælland in Denmark. Many journeys through Southern Europe and the East have given him the opportunity to absorb folk art and, not least, the philoso-phy behind it. However no great outside influence has ever played a decisive role in the development of his style. He maintains that each artist must pursue his own course with his own help.
Carl-Henning Pedersen is an extremely productive artist. He loves painting, and he paints quickly in the conviction that a work of art should be created rapidly and spontaneously to catch the emotions of the mind and translate them into painting. Among the early works of his youth should be mentioned the black and white bird paintings, in which the drama of the drawing and the luminous beauty of the grey tones are notable. The pink figures and a series of violent, expressionistic paintings date from 1939—40, the years of his break-through. During the war and the German occupation of Denmark his pictures take on a darker hue, and an oppressive horror is now reflected in many of these paintings. In the post-war years there is an increasing freedom in the use of colour, and an exceptional richness and splendour characterizes the work completed around 1950. A lyrical and dramatic interchange is evident in the paintings of this period. The impact of colour is an ever-increasing obsession, and in his desire to catch the utmost quality of light in all colours the artist halts at the technique of the Neo-Impressionists. It was obvious to him that Seurat and Signac had by no means drained the technical possibilities, and with great energy during the latter part of the 1950’s Carl-Henning Pedersen attemp-ted to develop the technique still further. His more recent paintings demon-strate abundantly his success. Shapes reappear, but now more often as a draw-ing which with calm, sweeping rhythms perpetuates the dreamlike quality of the colours in all their vitality and beauty.
As well as painting in oils Carl-Henning Pedersen has produced through the years numerous water-colours, pastels, crayon-drawings and ink-drawings, all of which are in no way less characteristic of his style. The medium of mo-saic has in recent years greatly attracted him. A huge mosaic ,>Cosmic Sea< is now at the H. C. Ørsted Institute in Copenhagen. As an artist he continues to proclaim the language of colour for expressing the beauty and variety of life.


Carl-Henning Pedersen on Wikipeda

Carl-Henning Pedersen og Else Alfelts Museum

 About other Cobra artists
Piere Alechinsky
Else Alfelt
Karel Appel
Mogens Balle
Ejler Bille
Christian Dotremont
Sonja Ferlov
Stephen Gilbert
Svavar Gudnason
Henry Heerup
C. O. Hultén
Egill Jacobsen
Asger Jorn
Erik Ortvad
Carl-Henning Petersen
Max Walter Svanberg
Anders Österlin

Back to Start