Carl-Henning Pedersen was born in 1913 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Coming from a working class background, Carl-Henning Pedersen grew up keenly interested in politics. As a young man he dreamt of becoming a composer or an architect. However, his stay at The International People’s College in 1933 proved of pivotal importance to his future. Here he met Else Alfelt (1910–1974), who introduced him to painting. The couple were married the following year, and in 1936 they both had their debut at Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling (the Artists’ Autumn Exhibition) in Copenhagen.
Carl-Henning Pedersen was among the artists who formed the legendary CoBrA movement in 1948. Here he found a community of like-minded artists who shared his ideas of art based on freedom, imagination and spontaneity. Carl-Henning Pedersen’s exhibition activity grew in scope up through the 1950s, and his international breakthrough came in 1962 when he represented Denmark at the Venice Biennial.
Pedersen has been described as a painter of fairy tales and the fantastic, and with good reason: his imagery teems with beings that seem to belong to some other world – magical and enchanting. Carl-Henning Pedersen’s expressive and spontaneous vein of painting was born out of modern abstract painting, but is by no means non-representational. Right from the outset he worked with a personal range of imagery that comprises a range of figures combined in ever-new constellations: people, birds, suns, horses, ships.