Her need to seek new methods of self-expression through art led her to shun a traditional education in Denmark, opting to go to Paris instead. There she studied under Fernand Léger for a period, but the late cubist style she learned there was not what she was after either. Rather, it was the surrealistic movement that attracted her, and she later said the surrealistic period was the best period for her as an artist.
The evolution of the paintings as a surrealist can be traced back to her earlier pencil sketches and watercolours. The notion that a person’s true nature is suppressed in the subconscious mind but appears in dreams, made the surrealists want to emulate dreams in their art. We can trace the dream as a starting point in Kernn-Larsen’s sketches La Rêve (The Dream) and A la nouvelle lune (The New Moon).
The use of automatic drawing was a means of suppressing censorship by the conscious mind and giving voice to the subconscious. The imagination should be unleashed, and the pencil should glide across the paper without having any particular motif in mind.
VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH RITA KERNN-LARSEN
Played on UGENS GÆST (THE GUEST OF THE WEEK) on the Danish radio station, DR, on 11 June 1986
Arranged by: Birgit Meister
Photographer: Svend Aage Madsen, Wagn Benneballe
Interview with Rita Kernn-Larsen in connection with her participation at the Venice Biennale in 1986.
Kernn-Larsen talks about her first solo exhibition in 1934 at Kunsthandel Chr. Larsen in Copenhagen, her time as a student of Fernand Léger in Paris and how she ‘slipped over’ into surrealism and later came into contact with the Danish surrealists Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen, Wilhelm Freddie and Gustav Munck-Petersen. She talks about the impact that Peggy Guggenheim had on her life and how the Second World War made it difficult for her to continue with surrealism.