Helge Ernst 1916-1991

Helge Ernst was born in Copenhagen on 27th January 1916. He was a Danish painter, printmaker, designer and filmmaker.

Ernst was, essentially, a completely self-taught painter. He first exhibited in 1938 at the Autumn Art Exhibition (Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling), a juried exhibition held every year (since 1915) which is held in the Free Exhibition Building (Den Frie Udstillings) in Copenhagen. In 1939 he briefly studied under the French sculptor, painter, teacher and writer André Lhote (1885-1962) in Paris.

Helge Ernst's early works were heavily influenced by the works of the landscape and figurative Danish painters Niels Lergaard (1893-1982) and Erik Hoppe (1896-1968). Ernst travelled extensively - Germany, France and Norway in the 1930s, Tunisia, Greece, the Netherlands and the UK in the 1940s and 1950s. By the early 1950s his works were becoming increasingly non-figurative and abstract.

In 1955, Ernst became the first abstract painter to become a member of the very traditional Koloristerne group (established 1932). In 1965 he became a member of the Grønningen group of artists. Named after the street (Grønningen) in Copenhagen where their first art exhibition was held, it is one of the oldest and most important artist groups in Denmark. It currently has 54 members and still hosts annual exhibitions at the Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall.

Between 1975 and 1988 Helge Ernst was a curator for the Bornholm Art Museum (Bornholms Kunstmuseum). His book about Bornholm painters (Bornholmermalerne og malere på Bornholm) was published in 1984. He also made short films, most notably 'Picassos Guernica' (1962), 'Oluf Høst' (1964) and (in 1972) a series of films on modern painting.

Helge Ernst has participated in numerous art exhibitions throughout Europe. Most notably, 'Young talents', Arnbaks Kunsthandel (1944), 'New Danish Painting' Fyns Stiftsmuseum (Funen's Art Musem), Odense (1952), 'Danish Modern Painting' - alongside Otto H Svensson (1917-2004), Arne L. Hansen (1921-2009), Niels Østergaard (1924-1974) and Helge Holmskov (1912-1982), Stedelijke Museum, Amsterdam (1953), 'Modern Danish Painting and Sculpture', The Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries (1956), 'Nordisk Grafik' (1960), Liljevalchs Konsthal, Stockholm.

In 1966 a retrospective exhibition was held at the Gammel Strand art gallery in Copenhagen and in 1971 Ernst received the Prix National at the (3rd) Festival International de Peinture (International Festival of Painting) held in Haut-de-Cagnes, France.

Helge Ernst died in Grevinge on 1st August 1991, aged 75.


Selected Exhibitions

1938-40 / 1943 / 1945-53 Autumn Art Exhibition (Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling), Copenhagen
1944 'Unge Talenter' (Young talents) Arnbaks Kunsthandel (Arnbaks Art Shop), Copenhagen
1945 Young Danish Arts
1948 '17 ialt' (17 Total) Kunsthal Charlottenburg, Copenhagen
1949 Forårsudstilling (Spring Exhibition), Kunsthal Charlottenburg, Copenhagen
1949 'Ung dans kunst' (Young Danish Art) travelling exhibition through Sweden
1952 'Nyere dans Malerkunst' (New Danish Painting) Fyns Stiftsmuseum (Funen's Art Musem), Odense
1953 'Modern Deense Schilderkuns' (Danish Modern Painting), Stedelijke Museum, Amsterdam
1953 'Nordic Kunst' (Nordic Art), Oslo and Bergen
1954 'Nordisk Grafik' (Nordic Graphic) Oslo, Stavanger and Trondheim
1955-59 / 1962 / 1964 Koloristerne (Danish artist association), Copenhagen
1956 Danish Contemporary, Kunsthal Charlottenburg, Copenhagen
1956 'Modern Danish Painting and Sculpture', The Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries
1957 Göthenburgs Konstmuseum (The Gothenburg Museum of Art), Gothenburg, Sweden
1958 'Dansk / Fransk Kunst' (Danish / French Art), Kunsthal Charlottenburg, Copenhagen
1958 'Kunst und Form aus Scandinavia' (Art and form of Scandinavia), Linz, Austria
1959 'Euro Art II', Kunsthal Charlottenburg, Copenhagen
1960 'Nordisk Grafik' (Nordic Graphic), Liljevalchs Konsthal, Stockholm
1963 'Dansk Collage' (Danish Collage), Gammel Strand, Copenhagen
1963 'Dansk Grafik i Dag' (Danish Graphics Today), Art Association, Copenhagen
1966 'Grafisk Gruppe' (Graphic Group)
1967 'Kunst 67' (Art 67), Åalborg
1968-70 / 1973-75 / 1977-79 Galerie Lerche. Aalborg
1971 Le III Festival International de La Peinture, Château-Musée Grimaldi, Haut-de-Cagnes, France
1971-73 / 1977-78 Galerie Moderne, Silkeborg
1973 Norrköpings Konstforum, Norrköping, Sweden
1974 'Dansk Nutidskunst' (Danish Contemporary Art), Odense
1976-83 / 1986-89 Galerie Torso, Odense
1982 Retrospective Exhibition, Galerie Nouvelle, Horsens
1983 Tuborg Art Society Anniversary Exhibition, Hjørring Museum
1985 Ålborg Kunstforening (Åalborg Art Society), Holstebro Kunstforening
1986-88 / 1990 Galleri Stender, Roskilde
1988 Galleri Vincen, Esbjerg
1989 Kalundborg Kunstforening, Bispegården
1989 Art Gallery, Århus
1989 'Danish Design', Bruxelles
1990 The Danish Embassy, London

Helge Ernst