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Karms Art Gallery

V/ Allan Karms Sundvej 5 4600 Køge

Tlf: 56 65 41 44

My Life


I was born by J. M. Hoffmann, who was the daughter of pyrotechnic Hjalmar Hoffmann, of the legendary duo Adolf and Hjalmar Hoffmann, the Tivoli Gardens fireworks brothers. I was what was popularly called a 'bastard' because my mother and father were not married. I was born at the Rigshospitalet in the ward for 'wayward women', so it was natural that I was named Hoffmann and therefore received a birth certificate with that name.

My mom and dad could not get married because my dad's wife would not agree to a divorce – she thought it would result in less support. By the way, my father was 25 years older than my mother and when my grandfather discovered that she was going to have a 'bastard' child with a man who was older than himself; he became so furious that he turfed my mother out. She lived in an allotment house until I was born. My father visited quite often, but shortly before I was born he had to go home to his wife to celebrate their Silver Anniversary.

Who says we are modern today? This sounds like 2007, but it was in 1933.
My dads first wife, whom I later called 'Stepmother' was a lovely lady, who felt so sorry for my mother that she managed to get her both an apartment and a job. In addition she offered to baby sit when mom was at work. Because of that I had a very close relationship with her and kept in touch with her right until her death in 1954.

In 1943 she finally agreed to a divorce, so now mom and dad could get married. It was a day I will never forget. Mom and dad took the streetcar from Valby to Copenhagen City Hall and got wed and they managed it on a return ticket, valid for 1 ¼ hour and when they came home I stood in the door with a Danish flag and yelled – hurrah, now my mom and dad are married. I was 9 years old and now I could get my other name Mathiesen, and then I was almost legitimate.

At the wedding friends and family turned up, even 'stepmother 'was there. During the dinner I remember my mother asking her if it wasn't odd to see her husband getting married, but she answered short and to the point: "By God no, I feel so sorry for you 'Sunny' – that was my mother's nickname – I wouldn't want him, not even in my coal cellar"

I got my third name in 1947. My father had hated his name ever since he was an apprentice. At that time he was boarding with a woman, who every morning at 6 o'clock woke him up with a shrill voice yelling Ma-thi-sen!! half a dozen times. My father hated to get up so this gave him the association that when the time was right he would change his name. In 1947 he felt that this was the right time and we started looking for a new name. It wasn't easy, but finally we managed. Now I got my third name – Karms.

I was in the lucky situation, that right back since my earliest childhood, I was able to mingle with a long line of contemporary great artists. My father's work as set designer at 'Nordisk Film' gave me the opportunity – since I was quite young – to freely move about in this exiting work place, with a whiff of almost all forms of art around me. Here I got to know the great actors and other film people of the time. I was even so lucky to get a few parts as an extra in my early youth.

Some of the artists I liked the most were Johannes Meyer, Peter Malberg and not least of all Ib Schønberg. I have a small story to tell about these wonderful artists.

My dad came down with a severe case of influenza and he ought to have stayed in bed but as there was to be an early morning meeting with the Director, and dad needed to have the layout for the designs ready, he 'dragged' himself to work. Here he met the 3 previously mentioned actors and they would cure him – they said. They took him to 'Tutten' – that was the cafeteria – and here he received his due. I was outside playing with my friends when someone called me and I was told that my father was dead sick. He had just arrived home in a taxi and the driver had to help him upstairs so I better hurry home. I rushed upstairs to my mom and breathlessly asked what was wrong with dad. I was told that he was really just piss drunk. I tiptoed in to the bedroom and my dad asked 'What time is it, is it day or night, is it today or tomorrow? Then he asked me to shoot him and relieve him from his misery. I explained that I only had a water pistol, but he accepted that. I remember this episode because I have never seen my father drunk, neither before nor since. But the three jovial actors had fired up the old Karms and the next day the influenza was gone.

I was so lucky to meet a lot of painters, poets, musicians etc. in my home as a child. It was an unbelievable experience for me as a young lad, with all senses open and receptive to the impressions that poured over me from all these exiting and creative artists. Among those painters I can mention, among others, Anker Landberg, Ernst Rasmussen, Echart Joensen, Max Louw, Børge L. Knudsen and, not least, Immanuel Ibsen.

I remember a couple of experiences regarding these artists
One of Børge L. Knudsen's patrons had given him the task to paint a portrait of his daughter. As Børge was the expressionistic type, who didn't quite have the sense of knowing how to please a father's view on how he should experience his daughter on a canvas, he turned to my father for help. He knew that my father was an outstanding portrait painter, and as he didn't want to loose one of his loyal supporters, Børge asked him if he would assist him.

So my dad helped to give the picture that which a father would like to see, namely a portrait that, not alone was a colourful enjoyment, but a picture where he could enjoy his daughter as he knew her. It became an enormous success. Børge L. was extremely happy and in exchange offered to finish a self portrait my father was working on, but with his forceful and colourful method of painting. He got started and there was significant temperament. Børge L. jumped around in the room – he painted with a knife – and when he mixed the colours on the palette the palette knife sometimes caught a bump and blobs of colours spattered onto the walls and ceiling. I can add that my mother had just painted and wall- papered the studio, so she was chocked, to put it mildly. But finally we could see that Børge L. looked doubtful. Apparently there was a colour he could not produce on the palette. At once he brightened up with a big smile. He dug his hand into his pocket and brought up a crumbled, dingy, lemon yellow streetcar transfer ticket. Placed it on the picture where he felt that this exact colour brought it all together. And truthfully, my father has never – before or since – looked as wild as he was portrayed here.

Another time Børge L. had finally sold a picture. He wanted to say thanks for the many meals he, and his muse Rachel, had had with us and invited us for dinner. Here there was everything to the hearts delight, real French red wine – and that was not a daily fare during the war. He really treated us. He also showed us what he had bought for himself. It was a real tapestry, a recorder and a real Pekinese dog. Things he had always wanted. So he was the world's most happy person and never gave it a thought that perhaps he would not earn any money the next 6 months. Shortly after the war Børge L. moved to Paris and the only thing we heard about him was that he lived with a Negro woman, had a lot of kids, sold hand drawn postcards near tourist bus terminals, when people started traveling after the war. Then the connection stopped and nobody has heard from him since.

Another experience was with Immanuel Ibsen. This quiet and modest painter turned 55 and it was decided that the party was to be held at my mom and dad's. It had been noticed that he had not had souls in his shoes for a long time and that he had put newspapers in them to ease it a little. Money was collected for a new pair of boots and in the middle of the festivities these boots, with angel wings, floated on a string unto his lap – I was impressed. This artistic giant sat there with big tears in his eyes. By the way he had to escape to Sweden shortly after where he died in 1944, only 57 years old. He died from the effects of hunger and poverty that he had had to endure. Not until now, so many years after, has his real talent been recognized but unfortunately that's how it is in this world.

Echart Joensen lived in a small farm house in Skovlunde with his wife, the painter Anni Løgstrup. These two artists were completely opposites. While Echart almost always painted Churchyards and gravestones and all in all sombre and creepy pictures, Anni painted happy pictures, among others motifs from Dyrhavsbakken. This unmatched marriage only lasted 7 years and in 1947 their ways parted and Echart hung himself shortly after in the loft at Skovlunde.

Ernst Rasmussen was a happy and funny fellow who, by the standards of the times had reasonable success. He developed a type of pictures in the impressionistic style in the 50's. They were Parisian motifs with a wonderful colour and mood that appealed to the greater public. He had but one problem that his earlier pictures were not quite in the same style and as a former Academy student he didn't want to risk that his reputation would be tarnished. He therefore signed these pictures with the French sounding name "Jean le Vang". At some point in the late 60's he bought a moving van, made the cargo space into living quarters and tired of the rat race drove to France where he shot himself the first night after having arrived.

Anker Landberg, who lived the last years of his life in Lysekil in Sweden, had never walked away from anything. During the war he joined the freedom fighters. After the war he went to the Faroe Islands with Jack Kampmann to paint the raw North Atlantic nature. In the evenings when he turned up in the pub he taunted the local fishermen, who at that time during the Klaksvig Brawls had made themselves spokespersons for the Faroe Islands secession from Denmark. The fishermen dragged him outside, beat him up and threw him off the cliffs. The next evening Anker again showed up in the pub and the same repeated itself. I have to say he didn't look good after that treatment. However, the Faroese found out that he was as tough as they so a good friendly relationship developed and he was accepted. That he years later took his own life because he was copied by unscrupulous art dealers, who can not resist taking the bread out of the mouths of painters just to score money, says it all. Anker cut his wrists, jumped in the ocean and swam until the end.

When my dad wasn't working on the films he worked as much as possible in his studio at home. This room was also my playroom. Here I sketched and painted even as a child and later I worked with my dad until I got married in 1955 and moved away from home. All those opportunities I had during my first 20 years could not but result in that which has occupied and sustained me for 60 years.

I started school the 6th of April 1940 in Vigerslev Allé School in Valby and experienced that the school closed for 3 days after the 9th of April 1940. Well, we got started quite quickly again and I had some good years in this school where I had the experience to have Palle Lauring as teacher. He used us a barometer for his manuscript for his first book "Ulv Viking", which he read aloud from. If we listened intensely he realised that it was good enough and continued writing the next chapters. Furthermore we had, by those days' standards, a very modern art teacher, Mr. Jyrs who had the good idea to read excerpts from Conan Doyle's fantastic stories about Sherlock Holmes and then we had to draw a scene as illustration. It was a good way to get the imagination going and an advanced teaching method by the norm of that time.
During my school years we also had to learn to swim and that was to take place at a swimming pool in Sydhavnen, BUT I wasn't allowed by MOM.
Since we had to have permission from home I was excused. There was unfortunately the drawback that I had to accompany the class there. Then I went on excursions in the area, and hey- ho it was a wonderful place. I became so fascinated that the following week I brought a sketch book and here an epoch began in my life that I think I will never quite finish with. I experienced the old district "Nokken", and not least of all, the old boozers who willingly told fascinating stories about their lives and the reason why they had ended up in the situation where they found themselves.

It was thrilling for a lad like me and perhaps also something which contributed to form some kind of conduct which made it possible for me to go unscathed through many of the adversities I had to endure later in life.
The whole atmosphere in that district in the 40's has given me an incredible richness in pictures of my mind and has given me the ability to find parallels many other places in Denmark and outside the country's borders.

All in all my school years were filled with experiences that have helped me in my life. When I was 10 I had the great joy to be invited to exhibit at Skolen ved Sundet on Amager. I was getting piano lessons about the same time. I had been given a Grand Piano by my uncle and aunt who were of the opinion that I had an ear for music. Uncle and aunt were both musicians. I managed to play in a couple of student concerts in the Great Hall of the Odd Fellow Palace in Copenhagen and Rossini in Valby. The music has given me much joy but unfortunately after only 4 years of lessons I had to stop because I had to start my apprenticeship. Later I also managed to be in a band that played dance music at various club dances. This was in the beginning of the 50's. The Music has been my best driving force in my painting activities. By sitting at the piano and playing a piece by Chopin I got the imagination to glow. It charged me up and the work flowed as if the brain had been lubricated.

Back to the school years for a moment.
There was the war which didn't go unnoticed by us either. We experienced some disturbing incidents in the school. Our vice- principal, who was a declared Nazi, tried to recruit members for the Hitler Jugend. This was finally getting too much for one of the students from the Real (Middle) School, so he showed up in his office and shot the vice-principal, who managed to notify the Wehrmacht. They arrived immediately and all the students were rounded up in the yard, while big machine pistol toting Prussians were guarding us kids.The school was searched. The student who had committed this "atrocious" act had vanished but a well liked teacher was arrested because he was carrying illegal news papers. He ended up in a concentration camp but returned after the war, 30 k. lighter, but in good spirit. The student wasn't seen until after the war when he was standing on the running board of a freedom fighter car, wearing an armband and carrying a machine pistol.

I had to go with my mother to Copenhagen to deliver some thing to the Inner City. We had arrived on the street car at Nørrevold when fighter planes swept in low over us. At the same time we heard loud noises and the covers over the subway trains blew up in the air. My mother yelled to the streetcar driver that he must stop, but he refused and explained that he could not stop until the siren had sounded. After a few blows from my mothers umbrella he did stop and we jumped off the streetcar. Even though there was great confusion I couldn't help my self from laughing when I saw my mother – she weighted 100 K. – jump over the enclosure to the centre tracks - light as a feather. The bullets were whistling around us while we were looking for a place to find shelter. It was the Shell House that was being bombed.

There were more experiences of the same kind, but the last one is that our teacher who was to teach us German, after the war –had had one arm and one leg shot off by the Germans during the war - did no want to teach us German. According to plans we were to have been taught English the last years of the war but were not allowed to by the Germans so none of us became real linguistic genius.

I was to be confirmed in September 1947, but as I hadn't been baptized this was to take place the day before the confirmation, on the Saturday. At that time we went to school on Saturdays so I had to get permission to get the day off. That was OK but then I forfeited my normal day off on the Monday – we had a new teacher that year. I asked the principal and he, as well as my old teacher, the one who had been in concentration camp, gave me both days off. That does not make one popular with a new teacher, so I felt that I had to do something else. I asked my father for advice and we agreed that I should start my apprenticeship. I was taken out of school and started as a sign painter apprentice in a large firm in the Inner City of Copenhagen. It was an experience. My father started by telling my new boss that it was ok to smack me if I didn't behave. He himself had never hit me. That was my entrance into the grown-up life.

It was wonderful. We worked in everything, in theatre and film etc. We made, among other things, decorations and posters for all the Stig Lommer Reviews in the ABC Theatre as well as for the Tivoli Review and all the large movie theatre banners and posters for all the major Copenhagen Movie Theatres. It was seldom that a work day was shorter than 10 hours. Often we worked around the clock. My weekly pay the first year was 7 Kroner but it rose to 28 Kroner the last year. I was apprenticing from October 1947 to May 1952. I received Silver at the Journeyman's Examination, which is the highest prize you can receive. It was presented at the Copenhagen City Hall in the attendance of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid. Two summers in a row I was an usher at Palads Theatre in the evenings. In my summer holidays I worked all four movies.

During the winter I attended Technical School after work. During that time I started selling a few paintings. It supplemented the meek apprentice wages and the non-existent usher income. Those 4 ½ years was a hectic time but unbelievably exiting and very educational. No one could derive as much from an academic education as I did from being an apprentice, both as a human as well as technically. With this as my strength I entered the 'grown-up' life.

Shortly after my journeyman examination I received an offer from Nordisk Film to become a 'decoration painter'. Even though I had had my daily run of the house before, it was after all a new world that open up for me when I started working there. The fact that it was an American TV crew that was filming Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales did not make it less interesting. A couple of months later there was a pause in the production and I was offered a position in SAGA Studios where they were in the middle of producing "Den gamle Mølle på Mols". Behind one of the backdrops stood an old pear tree with pears that were not quite ripe but we all ate quite a few of them. During our rests it was quite the craze to play cards in the canteen and during one of the games one day we noticed one of Louis Miehe Renard's most devoted fans walking onto the set. Louis Miehe Renard was on of the greatest charmers of the time and one of his problems was that he was chased by the girls. He jumped up. ran for the window while yelling: 'You don't know where I am, say that I went to U.S.A.', and with a jump he was out the window. It was a very bad- temperet young lady that saw her hero speed out of the driveway in his small sports car.

The shooting of the film now had to continue on Mols and there was a lull in the work in the studios. I was again lucky and was offered work at ASA Studios on the first "Far til Fire" film which was to start a week later. When I woke up in the morning, ready to go to work on the ASA Studios I was unable to bend my head and my right arm and left leg were totally useless. It was in 1952, the year with the great Polio Epidemic. I was admitted to Blegdams Hospital and after undergoing a bone marrow test there was no doubt that I had Polio. I was in the hospital a long time and underwent subsequent retraining. I lived with my parents and after I had returned home from the hospital my father suggested that I might as well work in his studio since I had customers for my paintings and besides, he thought, it would be nice with a little company and after all I also had my training to consider so it would be nice to make a bit of money as well…

I often went to the Frilands Museum in Lyngby with my dad and here I developed a love for images from the Peasant Period. It was my peasant interiors that were the most sought after now that I was trying to make a living from my art. It was a Danish American art dealer from Solvang in California, who was on a trip to Denmark and who had bought some of these paintings before that suggested a more Danish sounding signature on the paintings. After some consideration it was decided that the paintings should be signed with my middle name and her last name – Osvald Rasmussen. As a young 18 year old budding artist I was of the opinion that it was more important to establish a good foundation in the art world, and therefore the signature was less important. One must not forget that there were no social 'safety nets' and then, as during the rest of my career, I have never asked the public or anyone else for support. I am proud of that today as I quickly became a provider. Aside from the fact that my wife to-be had stopped working shortly before the wedding, I have brought up 3 children with the shaky finances one is subjected to when earning a living from painting. Then the military indoctrination arrived which was not a time of wealth either. With the long marching trips and after-effects from the Polio, which was now quit noticeable, I was transferred to the Supply Corps after 3 months and here I was given interesting assignments such as making posters for training purposes. The 16 months in the military went rather quickly and I even managed to get married during that time.

After military discharge we got a small top floor apartment near my childhood home and now the paintings started to move. The time flew and in June 1956 we got a son (Benny) and then there was another mouth to feed. The rent was quite reasonable; thank God, only 45 Kroner a month, but two years later we discovered that another little one was on its way and it was time to face the fact that it was getting too crowded. I was offered a brand new row house in Hvidovre where the monthly rent was 290 Kroner a month. Therefore, it was with butterflies in my stomach that I signed the rental agreement. There was however much more room than I had had before and half a year later a little girl – Liselotte – was born, that was in September 1958.

The rent was getting too much and when I was offered the ground floor suite in the house we had moved from a year and a half earlier, at a price of 175 Kroner a month, I immediately accepted. Here I also got the basement for a studio. Therefore, with 3 rooms and a basement I felt I was on more financial solid ground. In 1962 we felt that it would be good to leave Copenhagen. I read in the papers that it was possible to rent a new house with 'right of buy' so we drove to Køge to have a look. We were told that we could buy the house with 5000 Kroner as down payment and that it would be ready in 3 months. I was quite undecided but my wife thought she would be able to save on the household expenses, so it was decided. After several years with periodically strong pains I was finally committed to the hospital where it was discovered that my gallbladder had to be removed. This was 'a fly in the ointment', how would we manage economically? It was hard, but dear friends in the 'industry' gave us a helping hand with food etc. After all it was time to get going again. The economy of the time was up and the rental deposits on the house were beginning to make a difference. At that time it was an advantage to have high inflation.

I now started in earnest to paint pictures from the harbour district and 'NOKKEN' in Sydhavnen. I also received many invitations to show my paintings at exhibitions, among many, at the Opening Exhibition in Køge Gallery. An art dealer approached me and offered to sign a contract with me….this was something that would really give me a secure future…..I thought. However, it wasn't that easy. He broke the contract after half a year and with the help of my Solicitor I had the complete contract annulled. Other dealers were ready to buy.

My wife was beginning to be in poor health and we had no idea what it could be. Our doctor thought it might be because she had nothing to really occupy her so he suggested another newcomer. The others were 11 and 13. In 1969 we got another daughter, Sunny. Nevertheless, my wife's problem increased and resulted in another hospital commitment. It wasn't figured out what the matter with her was, until in 1975 when it was concluded that she had a growth on her brain and that there was only one solution, operation, with following chemotherapy and radiation.

While all this was taking place I discovered that copies of my paintings were being circulated, and with my signature, to boot. This resulted in me working with the Fraud Squad of The Copenhagen Police for the next 4 years. Soon it became clear that the main culprit behind the fraudulent paintings was the same art dealer whose contract I had had to cancel. Together with 3 painters they had mass produced my paintings and they were being sold all over the country. You can read more about the 'Karm's Case' on www.kunstnyt.dk

I didn't have good feelings about art dealers when this case was finished so I started to drive all over the country and exhibit my own paintings. My son and son-in-law were helping me. It was an unconditional success and I thought this was the real way to make contact with my customers. But Oh no, after one and a half years I discovered that a 'journalist' from Extrabladet had started a "Forgery Campaign" in the newspaper, where he warned art buyers against buying mine and a long list of other painters works.

He insisted, in very crude words, that people were being swindled, in the highest degree, if they invested in my paintings. I figured in the beginning that these attacks were because he didn't have anything else to write about, but they continued. I tried to arrange a meeting with him, but he refused me point blank. Nevertheless I later had a meeting with him at the publishers and on my way home I thought that we had come to an understanding. But the next day there was an article that was worse that the previous. Everything I had told him was twisted and turned and I didn't recognize any of it. I called him and informed him that if this didn't stop I would be forced to lay charges against him and the newspaper on grounds of personal innuendoes. Laughingly he replied that they had 10 million Kroner behind them to crush a small flee like me.

Then I had enough. The prospects of selling my paintings had greatly diminished. People showed up at my exhibitions but mostly to find out what was really happening. Nobody understood a word of his writing but the insecurity was great enough that they refrained from buying.

The case started in the autumn of 1978 and after a couple of court meetings they were found guilty of personal innuendoes. I thought I would be able to carry on but of course Extrabladet appealed. The case resumed in High Court in November 1979 and here the newspaper solicitors worked very hard to delay one court meeting after the other. Not until November 1981 when Extrabladet ran out of lies did they ask for a compromise. They regretted the choice of words they had used and the wrong expressions and that they had never intended to malign or tarnish my honour and that these articles were exclusively used as part of an art critic's SUBJECTIVE evaluation and the petitioner regretted this. So far so good but what did it all matter when self same 'art critic' continued his country-wide smear campaigns at various meetings, where he collected a good fee, and where he instilled fear in the art interested public who had not understood his screed in Extrabladet. So a real fear had been instilled in the public no to buy paintings they otherwise liked. They didn't want to 'be made fun of'. This is the greatest fear in manipulation, precisely as in "The Emperors New Clothes".

I was encouraged by doctors to get a divorce because my wife had gradually become so sick that she was transferred permanently to a Psychiatric Care Home. The doctors could not handle her and she demanded to go home. We were divorced 20 days before our Silver Anniversary. Following that I had a couple of unfortunate relationships, and a marriage that lasted 3 years. Dum and naïve as I were I had added her name to the deed so in 1986 I had to divide the property at a time when house prices had reached its all time highest value. When I was forced to sell the house 5 years later, because of bad times, the house prices had dropped so much that I had to leave the house I had lived in 30 years with a debt of 200,000 Kroner.

Well we had to carry on even if the economy was at the very bottom and I recall a day when my daughter came for a visit with my 2 grandchildren. While she opened the fridge she asked if she could make a couple of sandwiches for the kids, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing in it. She uttered spontaneously: Here even a rat would be sad. She looked in the freezer, nothing there either and now she realized for the first time how I could have lost 22 kilo in less than a year. She mobilized her sisters and every evening they put the left-over in a freezer bag and collected it for me. It was easy to heat in a microwave oven (I still had one from the 'good years') so this way I managed not to loose any more. Well, there was no other way than to work to get out of it and to make it all complete then came the potato diet' and that didn't make the situation any better.

At one point I was approached by the Principal of a Youth School in Herfølge who was really anxious for me to teach drawing and painting at the school. I had been 'down' so long that my self esteem was at a very low point that I answered with a definite NO. Me a teacher?
He wasn't easy to dissuade so after great persuasion (my economy was at the rock bottom) I asked him what the wages might be and he answered 189 kroner an hour. I swallowed a great lump because the last time I had received a wage was in 1952 when the hourly wage was 3 kroner and I don't recall that my paintings had ever produced such a great hourly income.
I explained that I had no experience as a pedagogue but his reply was that in return I had the life experience. I only had to teach on Monday evenings but I did have butterflies in my stomach the first evening. Everything went far beyond expectations and I continued for another 2 years. Then it became too much, I didn't feel well. I had pains in my left arm and shoulder, dizziness and did faint a couple of times.

I had my eyes on an old house which, coincidently, was the house that the Builder lived in when, 31 years before, I had been to Køge regarding buying a house. The house was in a miserable condition, but there was a wonderful room with a large window with the perfect northern light for painting. It already had a tenant, a young man, who rented 2 rooms with own entrance, kitchen and bathroom. A rental income would be of great help but it needed a loving hand to make it t right, and even just to have a roof over my head was a good feeling. My problem was that my bank didn't like the idea. It was actually the same bank that 3 years before didn't think I should have sold because the situation would improve within a year. At that time the house prices were at the top and they offered to increase my credit limit. Since I had to sell at a low price and they were owed 200,000 kroner they didn't think I ought to own property again. They wanted me to rent an apartment and have a studio somewhere else. That would have been more costly but the bank stood by their decision and didn't want to carry a mortgage.

So it was then a matter of getting out and try to raise some money. I needed at least 50,000 kr. and having just inherited 3000 kr. from a half sister I set out on a sales trip to Jutland. My grandchild's grandparents lived in Fredericia and wanted to get a ride so that helped a bit with the trip.
There wasn't much buying interest and the little I sold was at low prices, (it was a buyer's market) so I went home with only 10,000 kr.

When I arrived back in Fredericia to pick up the grandchild I was told by the grandfather that my son had phoned several times during the day and that I had to phone him back right away. He told me that and old art dealer in Copenhagen wanted to get in touch with me because he had had a visit from 2 gallery owners from Oslo who were interested in nature paintings and wanted me to make them an offer. I phoned them within the hour and made an agreement worth 40,000 kr. and suddenly the money was there and I was able to go home and sign the purchase agreement for the house and a very, very large stone was lifted from my shoulders.

A young restaurateur in Køge (who was a Swedish Baron) wanted to have private lessons in drawing and painting. I started right away and it cost him 200 kr. an hour, and as it was quite often, it helped to make life a little easier. One day he said he wanted to start some ‘60s Friday Evenings’ in the Courtyard and wanted me to attend as he had realized I was home alone in the evenings.

I didn’t feel I should spend the few resources I had on that but he talked me into it and promised I would get a few shots on the house. I showed up and it was an all time wonderful evening and I felt ‘a new beginning’ had started, with me having the housing problem sorted and going out on the town. The host was not tight with drinks and a bunch of sweet girls, nurses and economists from the local hospital asked me to dance. We soon became a small tight clique who met there every Friday so, generally speaking; a new and more down-to-earth period was beginning for me. The last Friday I was asked to dance by a young lady whom I sort of knew (she had been a colleague and a friend of a former acquaintance of mine). Her name was Lis and we danced all night and at closing time she asked if we should go for a swim at the beach. My pupil, the restaurateur, warned us that we would get influenza and that I needed to teach him the next day. I said to Lis: ‘if you want to have a bath you can come home and use my bathtub’ and darned if she didn’t. Whether it was the tub or me I don’t know….but she’s still here.

Lis gave me a real zest for life and we went to Paris in the spring and soon found out we generally had the same interests and enjoyed going to museums etc. Soon everything was moving ahead and one day we went to a grandchild’s birthday and went for a long walk with their dogs, then we went home, had a cosy evening and at bedtime I felt a strong pain in my left arm. I went downstairs to try to dull the pain but nothing helped and by that time Lis had realized that something was seriously wrong and wanted to call the doctor. At first I didn’t think it was necessary but after half an hour of unbearable pain I gave in. The doctor came and gave me nitroglycerin but as that didn’t help she called for an ambulance. During the next 24 hours I was revived twice and I consider myself extra lucky that Lis was with me during that terrible night. I was kept in the hospital 10 days for observations and the doctor in charge reminded me that I must accept that I was not able to work as before and he suggested that I take an early retirement.
I didn’t believe I wasn’t able to work as before as I felt on top of it all. However after a couple of hours of work I was totally exhausted. I realized that I had to take it easier and now that everything is running smoothly with large exhibitions and with a studio in the end of the house that was previously rented out I can only be happy about how lucky I have been.
I have been robbed of 20 years of my life while fighting forgers and battling with an art demagogue, a self appointed cultural mandarin who today, in his retirement, has tried to be an artist. This was not the success he had hoped for and by real art connoisseurs he has been declared the greatest amateur ever seen in Danish art.

I can thank Lis for the support and courage she has given me. She has directly and indirectly contributed to a renewal that has brought me on track again. It is after all an incredible wonderful feeling to be a couple.

A paradox, which can only be described as a miracle, arrived in the autumn of my life. I was contacted in February of 2003, and was informed that I had been nominated to exhibit at Biennale Internazionale DellÀrte Contemporanea, Citta di Firenze. This was to take place from the 6th to 14th of December 2003.
Can one imagine a better ending to a colourful and turbulent life which periodically almost gave me a picture of what life in hell can entail. Today I can see that some good can result from fighting for ones ideals and points of view.

Then the lightning struck.
One can not trust and rely on the luck to last forever. Everything looked good until 18th of November 2003 when my Lis was diagnosed with a tumour on the brain. She was operated on in December 2003 and it turned out to be a cancerous tumour. Consequently she had to endure 30 radiation treatments in the Rigshospitalet in February and March 2004.
It was a tragic and psychologically chaotic period filled with fright and total powerlesness for Lis. With her 26 years of work in the Home Care Sector she must have had no doubt how it would end. When she was told she had a tumour she said to the doctor: “I have just become a grandmother and now I am not permitted to see him grow up”. It was her first grandchild.
From that moment on and for the next 9 months, until 22nd of August, I was at her side 24 hours every day. It was necessary to be with her physically all that time to support her, to comfort her, and try to divert her thoughts and fright that was beginning to consume her.
She died in Roskilde Hospital on the 22nd of August 2004

Honour to Lis’ memory.

Thank you for your interest. I hope that by summarizing my life I have been able to open the veil to the experiences I have had. It is of course not possible to get into details which will be dealt with in a book I have been working on for several years. That which is related here is looked at from a few funny and, unfortunately monstrous experiences that can happen to a creative artist. It is not exactly something that is needed when one is baring ones soul on a canvas.

Allan Karms.

Opdateret d. 25. August 2013