MOGENS VANTORE (DANISH 1895-1977)
Eric Mogens Christian Vantore was born on March 16, 1895 in Copenhagen, Denmark. His father, painter Hans Christian Vantore (1861-1928), studied under the artists P.S. Krøyer and Laurits Tuxen who were both central figures in the Skagen Plein Air School; the most influential art movement in Denmark at the time. Mogens’ mother Marie was the daughter of the well-known French art dealer P. B. LeFevre.
With this artistic background Vantore was in contact with many well-known artists of the time and so became motivated to paint at an early age. At 14, he started formal training at the Technical School in Copenhagen where he was inspired by the Post-Impressionist School; mainly Gauguin, Van Gogh and Cezanne. Vantore’s strong palette of greens, reds, yellows and blues was to become the signature of his work and only rarely do we see him straying from this boldness of pure colour.
In 1912 at the age of seventeen, Vantore exhibited more than twenty-five landscapes and portraits in his first formal exhibition at the Kobenhavn Kunstsalon. The young Vantore was successful during these years and received exceptional mention in the press, with especially high praise for his portraits due to his remarkable ability to portray the depths of his sitter’s character.
In 1920 Vantore married his first wife Karen and they settled close to Nogent Sur Marne, Paris. The paintings he produced were popular in France and sold quickly through the Paris art dealer Carl Clausen. During these years Vantore’s work was compared to that of the French artist Andre Derain, the co-founder of Les Fauves.
Vantore and Karen returned to Denmark in 1925, where he became a regular exhibitor at the Charlottenborg Exhibitions (Royal Danish Academy). They settled in Copenhagen but made frequent trips to Lolland to escape the city and for inspiration. In 1930, during one of these trips to Lolland, Karen died. The work he produced following her death shows introspection on mortality as expressed in his multiple still lifes with animal skulls. In referring to Vantore’s work of this period, critics also talked of a “blinding artistry that is so hectic and overheated that one gets frightened that it might quickly burn out”.
While living in Klintholm after Karen’s death, Vantore met Nanna Elg, whom he married in 1932. Escaping the hectic bohemian life, the couple settled in central Jylland in the village of Roe. During this period he started painting with deep concentration as he brought his art back to his intimate interpretation of the subject. This period was marked by a number of portraits, including many of Nanna, as well as fresh landscapes and still lifes.
Vantore was never a landscape painter in the typical sense; he sought to capture the experience of the space, rather than a strict representation. Mogens always tried to depict his relationship with his surroundings, finding inspiration in the local people who gave the landscape life.
In 1952, Vantore discovered a thatched house close to the village pond in Unnerup in North Zealand, and here he found his inspiration from the changing nuances in nature and climate throughout the seasons. Besides the landscapes, many portraits and self-portraits were produced during his time there. During this latter part of his life, he travelled frequently to Spain. He spoke of his time in the Prado Museum as being an inexhaustible goldmine of inspiration.
Above all, his paintings are an intensely personal vision of his surroundings. His work captures his innermost feelings and conveys these to the viewer through the medium of the canvas. Vantore achieved both academic and commercial success in his lifetime and his paintings can be found in the permanent collections of museums worldwide. His style is characterized by strong brushwork, a saturated palette, innovative perspective and a compositional structure that imparts freshness and vivacity to his carefully-observed subjects.
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