Kay Nielsen - was said to be “the only living artist who can draw a troll”
1886 - 1957
A extremely new and exciting master of fairytale illustration I have just discovered. I usually recycle all my old pin ups I loved growing up or who my art teacher at school showed me. Prepping for a meeting I stumbled down an internet rabbit hole and found Kay Nielsen. I almost felt embarrassed that I had never seen his work before. His style couldn’t be more up my street if he tried. I instantly melt for anything to do with fairy tales, folklore and trolls (not sure what that says about me).
Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1886 into a preforming arts family, his parents were both actors. Often is compared to Aubrey Beardsley (see blog posts below for Beardsley’s work). Love, sexuality, loss and death are the main themes in Nielsen’s work. Dark, grotesque, with almost vulgar amounts of detail. His work reminds me of when you look closely to the decay on nature, the details, patterns and stains are strangely, distortedly beautiful.
Nielsens work provokes the inner child and transports me back to when I was a little girl and read books like the Brothers Grimm and the illustrations that made me feel scared but excited.
The work I love the most by him is in the story book “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” 1914, a book about folklore stories. Originals seem to go for a lot.
Tragically Nielsen spent his last years in property looking for work