Wilhelm Freddie


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Danish Surrealist painter, sculptor, collagist, printmaker, draughtsman, designer, and film-maker, well known for the explicit erotic quality of his work, which often caused controversy. He was born in Copenhagen and studied briefly at the Academy there, but he was essentially self-taught. In 1929 he was introduced to Surrealism by the magazine La Révolution surréaliste, and he became a pioneer of the movement in Denmark. His early work was influenced by the highly detailed style of Dalí, but it later moved towards abstraction. He first made a major public impact in 1937, when, as Sarane Alexandrian wrote (Surrealist Art, 1970), ‘there were angry scenes at his Copenhagen exhibition “Sex-Surreal”, which included “sado-masochistic interiors” and “sensual objects”. One protestor was so infuriated that he hurled himself on Freddie on the day of the opening and tried to strangle him. The gallery was closed by the police, who confiscated the works on show, some of which…went to their “black museum”, from which Freddie was not able to retrieve them until much later.’ (In 1961, he provoked a reopening of the case and succeeded in having the country's obscenity laws revised.) During the Second World War, Denmark was occupied by the Germans and his work was declared degenerate, prompting him to flee to Sweden, where he lived from 1944 to 1950. After his return to Denmark, his work was gradually found more acceptable by the public. He received several decorative commissions and from 1973 to 1979 he was a professor at the Copenhagen Academy.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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