Helhesten and the Danish Avant-garde during World War II


War Horses is the first museum exhibition to focus on “Helhesten” (Ghost Horse), the Danish avant-garde group of artists founded in Copenhagen in 1941 by leading modernists of the period. Among them were the painters Ejler Bille (1910-2004), Egill Jacobsen (1910-1998), Asger Jorn (1914-1973) and Carl-Henning Pedersen (1913-2007). They met as a group, created art, exhibited, and published a journal during the German occupation. The founders of Helhesten were active in Paris and Germany before the war and were passionately engaged in pursuing aspects of surrealism, dadaism and German expressionism further. During the war, their reinterpretation of these directions in art as well as their interest in Nordic mythology, ethnographic artefacts and children's art contributed to creating a thoroughly unique style of painting that laid the foundation for the post-war Cobra movement in which many of the Helhesten artists would later participate.