Harald Henriksen Biography

Harald Henriksen




Painter and printmaker Harald Henriksen was born in 1883 in Odense, Denmark. He taught himself how to draw as a child, but interest in pursuing art professionally or academically came somewhat later in life. After the death of his father in 1890, Henriksen’s older brother was sent to open and operate a sugar plantation in Australia and Henriksen was sent to train as a banker - a career he abhorred. To make up for this unfortunate turn, Henriksen spent all of his spare time traveling throughout the countryside with a sketchbook, writing in his diary, “I follow every blade of grass.” He painted his first oil painting in 1901.

After moving to Copenhagen in 1903 he found work as a banker, a position he retained until 1911. He took occasional courses in painting at the Technical School from 1904 to 1908, when he went to work for his brother for a year in Australia. On his return he met the artists of the De Tretten art group, formed in response to the rejection of Modern art at the Spring Exhibition at Charlottenborg. Inspired by the social realism of the group, he began studying drawing and painting first with Die Tretten founder and Modernist Olaf Rude, with whom he would work throughout his career. His first exhibition took place with the group in 1910.

After leaving his job as a banker in 1911, he found work in a porcelain factory, which helped him refine his painting skills. He remained at the factory until 1930, and also pursued theater set and costume design beginning in 1916 at the Royal Theater. In 1916 he joined the Association of Graphic Artists, and in 1918 he received a two-year scholarship to study at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. He began studying color woodcut in 1920, depicting Danish landscapes.

Henriksen held solo exhibitions in Copenhagen throughout the 1920s, and visited Berlin with Rude in 1927, finding particular inspiration in the work of Caezanne. He worked as a graphic artist for various newspapers throughout the late 1930s and ‘40s, and in the 1950s he traveled to Italy for the first time, and continued to create works inspired by his travels in the form of paintings and woodcuts. He was preparing for a retrospective in Copenhagen when he died from complications of lung cancer in 1960.