Odder 1910, ? 2004
Ejler Bille was born as Eljer Christian Torbensen Bille in Odder on the 6th of March, 1910. He worked as a painter, sculptor, lithographer, graphic artist, watercolorist and pastellist. His training was from 1930-1931 at the School of Applied Arts in Copenhagen and the Royal Danish Academy of Art. It is said that he had been a lecturer at the Royal Danish Academy of Art since 1969. In the 30’s he traveled to Berlin along with compatriot and painter Richard Mortensen (1910-1993). Bille’s sculpture work was first exhibited in 1933. During the same period, he created his first paintings, which were relatively straight and sleek of character at the beginning of his career. That changed in 1934 when he founded with Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen (1909-1957), the surrealist group of artists ‘Linien’ (The Line) (1934-1939). From that moment Bille aspired to an artistic expression that was as spontaneous as possible, in which expressive fantasy art and bright colors dominated his oeuvre. During his search for a new way of working, he was strongly influenced by his compatriot Egill Jacobsen (1910-1998). Bille also frequently manufactured masks. Besides co-founder of Linien he was involved in the Danish prewar experimental artists’ Høst (1942-1949) and the magazine Helhesten (1941-1944). Through Høst he came in contact with the members of CoBrA in 1948 and as from that same year he was a correspondent for the magazine Le Surrealisme Revolutionnaire, where artistic freedom and social commitment played a major role. The works of Bille were presented at the famous CoBrA exhibition in Amsterdam (1949). Notably, after the breakup of CoBrA Bille was looking for a more considerate working process, and that shifted the spontaneity and the expressive to the background.