Folmer Bentsen 1907-1993

Folmer Bentsen was born in the Vesterbro district of Copenhagen on 8th February 1907. He was a Danish painter

Bentsen was born illegitimate and was taken into care in Nørrebro. In 1914, at the age of 7, he was reunited to his parents and in 1923 joined the Danish Merchant Navy and worked in India and Africa. Bentsen returned to Copenhagen in 1928 where he worked as a clerk and then as a street vendor selling flowers (and bananas every Friday) from a cart to factory workers in Copenhagen.

It was only after reading about art in the library that Folmer Bendtsen started painting. Bentsen bought his paints from the art dealer Henning Larsen who lived in the (Knabrostræde) old town of Copenhagen. In 1935 an exhibition Larsen had planned fell through. Larsen had always been curious about the street seller who bought paints from him so he asked Bentsen if he could see some of his paintings. Larsen immediately gave Bentsen his debut exhibition. The exhibition was a great success. The Danish writer and journalist Ole Vinding (1906-1985) wrote a glowing review of the exhibition in Ekstra Bladet and the following day the Danish Social Democratic Party politician Karl Kristian (K.K) Steincke (1880-1963) bought two pictures.

The following year (1936) Bentsen exhibited works at the Autumn Art Exhibition (Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling), Charlottenburg, Copenhagen and is invited too become a member of the Kammeraterne (Comrades) ArtistsÂ’ Association and exhibited with them at Den Frie Udstilling (The Free Exhibition) building in Copenhagen. Just before the outbreak of WWII, Bentsen took a study trip (financially supported by, amongst others, Ole Vinding and K.K Steincke) to Paris. He also travelled to Italy in 1952 and 1955.

Bentsen worked with the Danish Red Cross during WWII and received their War Relief Work medal. He was a politically active member of the Danish Communist Party until 1956; was an art critic at the Social Democrat (Social-Demokraten) (1938-43) and was involved with many charities and associations, many of which he was chairman, throughout his career.

Bentsen exhibited extensively - notable group exhibitions include the annual Autumn and Spring exhibitions in Copenhagen (from 1935 until 1957), Grønningen (1952-59, 1965, 1967, 1977), Cincinatti Art Museum (1952); Contemporary Art in Scandinavia, New York, USA (1954), Göteborg (1955); Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm (1961); Hälsingborgs Konstmusem (1970) - Solo exhibitions include Henning Larsen, Knabrostræde 10, Copenhagen (1935); Arnbaks Kunsthandel, Copenhagen (1937, 1941); Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen (1945); Oslo (1948): Gallery 21, Copenhagen (1977); København Museum (Retrospective) (1977): Hundested (1985); Gjethuset, Frederiksvaerk (Retrospective) 1994

Examples of his work are held in the collections of Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) (The State Museum of Art), Copenhagen; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum and North Jutland Art Museum.

Former Bentsen died in Frederikssund on 6th January 1993, aged 85.