Thursday, July 21, 2011
Artist of the Month; Kay Nielsen
Kay Nielsen was a Danish artist whose greatest claim to fame was a brief period at Disney, where he was responsible for the 'Night on Bald Mountain' scene from the film 'Fantasia'. Having reached this illustrious pinnacle of acheivement he then sank back into relative obscurity. Luckily there was more to Nielsen than that, and he left behind a series of fantastical illustrations in much the same highly stylised and colourful vein as Bauer and Dulac.
Nielsen was born of two actors in København in 1886, so he missed the great creativity of the time and as an artist he must have come of age in the years before the first world war when Art Nouveau had burned out as a movement, but its creative imeptus was still strong. Nielsen's work shows a heavy emphasis of Art Nouveau's influence, yet at the same time it also harks back to the Victorian and Scandinavian children's illustration traditions. The Great War put an end to that golden era and Nielsen sought ever further afield for glorious opportunities, often relying on his connections in the theatrical world for work. Eventually this took him to California and Disney and he must have thought he'd finally made it. Alas, after he was laid off, he sank into poverty and his work has been forgotten by most. He died in 1957.
Kay Nielsen gallery at Art Passions.