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Helge Helme
Seated Nude

Circa 1930

About the Item

Axel Henry Helge Helme (1894 Roskilde, Denmark 1987), Seated Nude, circa 1930, oil on canvas, original frame Son of a merchant, Helge Helme was admitted to the Academy of Arts in 1918 studying under P Rostrup Bøyesen. He appreciated female beauty often drawing and painting nudes. He received the glory of Johan Frantz Ronge in 1927.
  • Creator:
    Helge Helme (1894 - 1987, Danish)
  • Creation Year:
    Circa 1930
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 22.05 in (56 cm)Width: 18.12 in (46 cm)Depth: 3.15 in (8 cm)
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
  • Condition:
  • Gallery Location:
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number:
    Seller: CS10001stDibs: LU94932988611
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At night she put herself through school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and taught at her former alma mater after her graduation during the years 1923-1929. She also studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art. She took up design work and began exhibiting painted silk creations at a private Chicago gallery (probably Thurber, see below). The first museum exhibitions she is known to have participated in were held at the Art Institute of Chicago. During this period she became known for her portraits. Originally a resident alien, she was naturalized at the district court of Chicago, Illinois in July of 1913. In 1920 she lived on East Ontario Street in Chicago in a neighborhood filled with art studios and artists, including James Allen Saint-John (1872-1957), Paul Bartlett (1881-1965), Pauline Palmer (1867-1938), and George Ames Aldrich (1872-1941). It is in Chicago that she saw her greatest success as an artist. In 1927, Chicago art dealer Chester H. Johnson said of her work: "The Art of Salcia Bahnc is a sincere manifestation of the spirit we know as 'Modernism' . . . . . . She is the spirit of the Age, not its Fashion." Local reviewers agreed, one going as far to say that her exhibition was " . . . the most interesting one man show by a young artist that has ever been presented to Chicago, and I keep telling myself that New York will get her if we don't watch out." She was apparently a favorite and friend of art critic Clarence Joseph Bulliet (1883-1952), who authored a number of books and articles that praised Bahnc's work. Bulliet was central in introducing and popularizing modern art in the mid-western United States. In his book Apples and Madonnas: Emotional Expression in Modern Art (1935) he called Bahnc a "A thorough Expressionist." A year later in his book The Significant Moderns and Their Pictures (1936) he noted that one of her paintings of a nude was ". . . powerful in its elemental brutality." 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She returned to France where she married a French citizen and writer named Eugene Petit (b. 1901) and bore a son there named Alain Petit (b. 1934). She again returned to the United States in November of 1937 and traveled back to France after a brief stay in America. During her stay she continued to exhibit in Chicago, where Quest Galleries gave her a solo show. Like so many ex-patriot authors and artists who were living in Paris, she found herself trapped in France (first in Paris, then in Mayenne) following the German invasion in 1940. Being of Jewish extraction the situation could prove to be quite dangerous if she were reported or discovered by German authorities. She and her husband were able to obtain passports and escape to Portugal where in August of 1941 they boarded the S. S. Escambion to return to America. In 1940, American Export Lines, owners of the Escambion, discontinued its normal Mediterranean routes and placed their ships into service sailing from Lisbon, Portugal to New York City. Over the next two years (1940 - 1941) their ships played an important role in transporting thousands of people who were trying to escape the Nazi regime before America's own entry into World War II. One survivor, Ludwig Lowenberg, who sailed on the Escambion on the same day that Bahnc did, reported the ordeal his family endured getting to Lisbon to his own descendants: "[The family] received their American visa on May 28, 1941, only three days before the U.S. consulate in Stuttgart closed for the duration of World War II. They left Berlin on June 23, 1941, traveling for 27 hours on a locked train to Paris. There they were forced to spend an additional night in the locked train until their coach was attached to a train headed for San Sebastian in Spain. After an overnight hotel stay in San Sebastian, the train (now no longer locked) continued to Lisbon. All in all it took six days from Berlin to Lisbon. They remained for four weeks in Lisbon until they embarked on the Excambion for New York." Bahnc had given up her citizenship during her time in France and was forced to reapply for naturalization once again upon her return. She was living in New York City at 101 West 85th Street when she was re-naturalized in April of 1947. Exactly how much of her artwork was lost in Europe is not known. Clearly, she would not have been able to bring much, if anything, with her during her escape. One writer had noted that between 1930 and 1934 she had worked hard to prepare a large group of new works for a show in Paris. Between those, and what she would have produced during the next six years, the actual amount of the loss might have been staggering. Bahnc's 1942 exhibition with Julio de Diego included works recalling the suffering going on in Europe. One work in the exhibition was a portrait of the painter Katherine Dudley, who, at the time, was reportedly interned near Paris. In the later years of her career she worked extensively as a teacher and illustrator of children's books. In 1950 she taught at the Evanston Art Center, where she lead a demonstration in portrait painting. She authored or illustrated a number of works during and after World War II, including: The House in the Tree and Other Stories of Places, People and Things (1941); Claude Of France: The Story Of Debussy For Young People (1948); Time for Poetry (1951); Hidden Silver (1952); From Many Lands - The Children's Hour, Volume 9 (1969); and That Boy (no date). She returned to teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during 1943-44 and 1947-53; and taught later at the Garrison Forest School in Garrison, Maryland, from 1955-57. Bahnc was known to have exhibited widely, both in Europe and in America. Her known lifetime exhibitions include: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 1919-29, 1942 (The 53rd Annual; and Room of Chicago Art: Exhibition of Paintings by Salcia Bahnc and Julio de Diego), 1943; Chicago Architectural...
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