Parisian street scenery. Signed and dated Karl Larsen 1922. Oil on canvas. 83×100 cm.
Provenance: Art dealer Carl Clausen (the owner’s stamp on the stretcher).
At a time when Cubism and Expressionism began to resonate with a young generation of painters in Denmark, Karl Larsen – only 20 years old and self-taught as a painter – enters the art scene with the painting "Trappegang” (Staircase). The work is considered both one of Larsen's central pieces and at the same time one of the most significant works of the early Danish Modernism.
Karl Larsen has close ties to Vilhelm Lundstrøm; a friendship that has mutual significance for the development of the colour and composition in both artists’ work. In 1920, Larsen and Lundstrøm, together with fellow artists Svend Johansen and Axel Salto, forms the group “De Fire” (The Four), which for several years is located in the south of France. Here, Larsen is inspired by contemporary French art in terms of both motifs and colour choices.
The work on offer here is a contrast to the more sensitive and quiet motifs that characterize his early years. From a bird's view, a festive day on the streets of Paris – possibly Bastille Day – is seen with waving flags and a throng of people. The colours are elevated and given free rein over the entire frame of the image. The strong red intonations slowly dissolve in the pink accents of the background, and the result is a rare texture and rhythm that showcases Larsen's special visual understanding.