Surrealism and Self-reliance

At an Online Auction, we are currently offering a rare collection of characteristic works by the Surrealist artist Rita Kernn-Larsen.

The Scandinavian surrealists of the 1930s-40s are as popular as ever on the art market. With the expressive works that explore and visualize the workings of the unconscious mind, the art movement is one of the most important of the 20th century. At our Online Auction, which ends on Tuesday 12 November, you can bid on a number of works by one of the most important artists of Danish Surrealism: Rita Kernn-Larsen.

Studying Under Léger

In 1929, the then 25-year-old Rita Kernn-Larsen travelled to Paris to find inspiration beyond the artistic education she had received up until that point in Oslo and at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. It turned out to be a good decision since she was admitted to Fernand Léger's art school, l'Académie Moderne, where the Danish Surrealist Franciska Clausen was also exploring and expanding her artistic abilities.

Fernand Léger did emphasize the work of creating compositions that could contain realistic elements but first and foremost the work had to be based on its own dynamics. This meant the freedom to prioritize the surface of the painting and the interplay of the colours.

In 1934, Rita Kernn-Larsen was able to showcase the first examples of the great artistic development she had experienced in Paris. This took place at the art dealer Chr. Larsen's Kunsthandel at Højbro Plads in Copenhagen, where her solo exhibition attracted a great deal of attention – not least among the artist association “Linien”, where Richard Mortensen, Ejler Bille and Vilhelm Bjerke Pedersen were leading figures. Soon a shared spiritual kinship and understanding of the Surrealist currents that flowed through European avant-garde art was established.

Rita Kernn-Larsen: Composition, around 1970. Signed Rita Kernn-Larsen. Oil on canvas 41×33 cm. Estimate: DKK 12,000-15,000
Rita Kernn-Larsen: Untitled. Signed. Oil on canvas with applications. 65×59 cm. Estimate: DKK 10,000

Between Dreams and Reality

Back in Paris, Rita Kernn-Larsen purposefully worked on an idiom that lay between dream and reality. Many of her most successful works were created in the years leading up to World War II, where she moved to London with her spouse, the journalist Isak Grünberg.

The experiences during the war would prove a turning point in Rita Kernn-Larsen's art, not least due to the shock of having experienced a bombing raid first hand. The real world surpassed the surrealist fantasies, and after the war, she could no longer see herself continuing on the path of Surrealist art. Together with her husband, she settled in Provence, where she developed a style that increasingly relied on the colours and landscape around her. She also threw herself into pottery, finding inspiration in the works of Picasso, whom she and her husband came to know personally.


In the 1930s, Rita Kernn-Larsen, like a few other contemporary female artists, experienced some international acclaim. In spite of this, it is only in recent times that her work has truly earned the attention it deserves – most recently with exhibitions at the art institution GL STRAND, Gammel Holtegaard and at the Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, which collectively show her great importance in Danish art history.

The seven works up for auction all come from a Danish private collector with connections to Rita Kernn-Larsen, and they have never been offered for sale before. The Hammer will fall on Tuesday 12 November at 8 pm, but you can already place your bid at

Online Auction

Rita Kernn-Larsen

12 November at 8 pm

For further information, please contact:

Peter Beck: +45 8818 1186 ·