(b Copenhagen, Oct 23, 1910; d Copenhagen, Jan 12, 1993).
Danish painter and stage designer. He studied at the art academy in Copenhagen from 1931 to 1932. In 1932 he visited Berlin with the painter Ejler Bille and saw paintings by Vasily Kandinsky, after which he began to make abstract pictures with pure, geometrical forms. He was also attracted by Surrealism and in his paintings of 1933–4 sometimes incorporated fragments of reality, such as an eye and a pair of lips, in otherwise abstract compositions, which gave them a fantastic and erotic character. In 1934 he made some paintings that were purely Surrealist (influenced by Salvador Dalí and Yves Tanguy) as well as drawings of an automatist nature; his works were already exceptionally striking in colour.
From January 1934 Mortensen was associated with the magazine Linien, edited by Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen, and from September 1934 he became its co-editor with Bille. By 1935 he had turned against the more naturalistic kinds of Surrealism; he was inspired by two summers spent on the island of Bornholm to paint a series of pictures based on fantastic impressions of botanical forms, with vigorous interwoven patterns and rich colours. In ...