Ernst Altien

The 80ies.

After the fire of 1983 Ernst Altien was very depressed. I still have a postcard from him with some gloomy considerations about life and fate. For some months he disappeared completely. I think he stayed in Marseille and worked on the boats in the harbour. He got a lift with a boat to the Canaries, where he sold drawings to the tourists. He even painted some ships, copied old paintings and that kind of stuf. All for the yankee dollar.  But in the month of december he was back in Denmark.

Somebody told me they had seen him in Copenhagen in the pub "Skindbuksen" drinking wildly and talking noncense about his lost opportunities. Strangely enough he didnīt seem to be short on money. This is one of the riddles in my knowledge of his life. He never talked about the 80ies and I have absolutely no idea about where he got the money. I am not sure he earned them quite legally, or maybe he just had financiel luck with his copy art in those days. Two of them are shown below.

  Danish sailing ship painted by Ernst Altien on the Canaries. 1983      Copy painting after  C.J. Rothkamm. March 1918. Ernst used the signature AWagar    
     and dated the painting Avril 1918. I am not sure he was so proud of this line of work.
     My picture here is made from a very small photography, which he gave me without
     further comments.

 From one of his letters, I know he read a lot of poetry in those days, and he was very obsessed by T. S. Eliot. The only valuable piece of art from the period 1983-1990 has a theme from Eliot: The fisher king. It still has traces of his facination of the occult, but  I think it depicts a very dearly bought experience about life and not beeing able to grasp the moment living among the dead on the banks of the Thames. You can see the painting  here.