Ejnar Hansen’s art is expressionistic and dark, aligning him with such Scandinavian artists as Edvard Munch. In fact, as a young artist growing up in Denmark, Hansen admired Munch and became a member of De Trotten (The Thirteen), a secessionist group that rebelled against academic art and advocated modernism. Hansen, who had been raised in humble circumstances on a dairy farm, attended the Teknisk Skole while apprenticing to become a painting contractor. After reaching journeyman status, he attended evening classes at the Royal Academy of Art, while exhibiting and making caricatures for newspapers and magazines. He left Copenhagen in 1914 to go to Chicago, and settled in the Midwest.
In 1925 Hansen relocated to Pasadena, where he became a highly regarded portraitist and instructor in regional art institutions. His wide circle of friends included the painters Ben Berlin and Frode Dann, and the brilliant poet and art critic Sadikichi Hartmann. Hansen created a series of piercing yet sympathetic portraits of Hartmann, who was a long-time mentor and friend to the artist, and of others in his circle as well.
Oil on canvas, c. 1950
48 x 36 inches
Gift of the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation