The Art of Kay Nielsen
Kay Nielsen was born in Copenhagen into an artistic family; both of his parents were actors - Nielsen's father, Martinus Nielsen, was the director of Dagmarteater and his mother, Oda Nielsen, was one of the most celebrated actresses of her time, both at the Royal Danish Theater and at the Dagmarteater. Kay Nielsen studied art in Paris at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi from 1904 to 1911, and then lived in England from 1911 to 1916. He received his first English commission from Hodder and Stoughton to illustrate a collection of fairy tales, providing 24 colour plates and more than 15 monotone illustrations for In Powder and Crinoline, Fairy Tales Retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in 1913. In the same year, Nielsen was also commissioned by The Illustrated London News to produce a set of four illustrations to accompany the tales of Charles Perrault; Nielsen's illustrations for 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Puss in Boots', 'Cinderella' and 'Bluebeard' were published in the 1913 Christmas Edition.
in 1914, Nielsen provided 25 colour plates and more than 21 monotone images for the children's collection East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The colour images for both In Powder and Crinoline and East of the Sun and West of the Moon were reproduced by a 4-colour process, in contrast to many of the illustrations prepared by his contemporaries that characteristically utilized a traditional 3-colour process. Also in that year, Nielsen produced at least three illustrations depicting scenes from the life of Joan of Arc.
While painting landscapes in the Dover area, Nielsen came into contact with The Society of Tempera Painters where he learned new skills, and was able to reduce the time involved in the painting process. In 1917 Nielsen left for New York where an exhibition of his work was held and subsequently returned to Denmark.
Together with a collaborator, Johannes Poulsen, he painted stage scenery for the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. During this time, Nielsen also worked on an extensive suite of illustrations intended to accompany a translation of The Arabian Nights that had been undertaken by the Arabic scholar, Professor Arthur Christensen.
Following his theatrical work in Copenhagen, Nielsen returned to contributing to illustrated books with the publication of Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen in 1924. A year later, Nielsen provided the artwork for Hansel and Gretel, and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm which was first published with 12 colour images and over 20 detailed monotone illustrations. A further 5 years passed before the publication of Red Magic, the final title to be illustrated comprehensively by Nielsen. The 1930 version of Red Magic included 8 colour and more than 50 monotone contributions from the Danish artist.
In 1939 Nielsen left for California and worked for Hollywood companies. A personal recommendation from Joe Grant to Walt Disney secured Nielsen a job with The Walt Disney Company, where his work was used in the "Ave Maria" and "Night on Bald Mountain" sequences of Fantasia. Nielsen was renowned at the Disney studio for his concept art and he contributed artwork for many Disney films, including concept paintings for a proposed adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. Nielsen worked for The Walt Disney Company for 4 years, from 1937 to 1941 before being let go.
Nielsen briefly returned to Denmark in desperation. However, he found his works no longer in demand there either. His final years were spent in poverty. His last works were for local schools, including 'The First Spring' mural installed at Central Junior High School, Los Angeles and churches, including his painting to the Wong Chapel at the First Congregational Church, Los Angeles, illustrating the 23rd Psalm.
Source: Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kay_Nielsen
Music: Namaste by Jason Shaw
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
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