Elsa Thoresen

Elsa Cecilie Thoresen was born May 1st 1906 in Minnesota, USA. 
Died August 20th 1994, in Seattle, USA. 


Her father, Thore Thoresen, was a Norwegian doctor and her mother, Alice Josephine Johnson was American, born by immigrated Norwegian parents. She was married to the artist Vilhelm Bjerke- Petersen 1935–1953 and then to Johnny Gouveia 1953 – 1994.

1920 The Thoresen family moved to Oslo, Norway, Eisenbergveien 16.
1924–1927 Studied at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry in Oslo.
1927-28 and 1929-30 Studied with Professor Axel Revold at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo.
1928 Met Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen at the Art Academy in Oslo.

1928–1929 Studied with Alfred Bastien at Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
1929–1930 Studied with Halfdan Strøm and Axel Revold at The Norwegian National Academy of Arts i Oslo 
Visited smaller studios in Brussels and Paris.
1935 Married Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen in Copenhagen.
1939 Inauguration with Bjerke-Petersen, painted murals at Højdevangens school in the Amager district in Copenhagen.
1939 Inauguration with Bjerke-Petersen, painted murals at the Ved Volden apartment building, Christianshavn in Copenhagen. 
1939 Visited Halmstad in June and met the members of the 
Halmstad Group. 
1940 Her son Kai was born (died 2016).
1941 Her daughter Alice was born.
1944 April 17th the family escaped to Sweden. They settled in Stockholm, Attundavägen 14 in Norra Ängby.
They spent the summers in Söndrum outside Halmstad.
1946-1947 The family travelled to New York May 31st and returned to Sweden June 30th 1947. They moved to Grev Turegatan 16 B, an apartment that belonged to Greta Thorén.
1948 Bjerke-Petersen and Elsa Thoresen rent Erik Olson's home and studio in Halmstad from April to June and then spent a few months in Stendahl’s house in Söndrum outside Halmstad.
1953 Divorced Bjerke-Petersen and moved with her two children to the USA. Married Johnny Gouveia on November 14th 1953 in New York. Settled first in Washington DC, then to Flushing, New York and later upstate New York. After a few years moved to Seattle. From the late 1950s to the mid-1960s she supported herself by working as a clerk in the lamps and paintings department of a large Seattle department store, The Bon Marché.
Visited Copenhagen and Stockholm 1985 and 1988.
She also played the violin.
Died in Seattle August 20th 1994.

Exhibitions:
1936   October, Arnbaks Kunsthandel, Copenhagen, with Erik Olson och 
            Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen
1937   Surrealism i Norden (Surrealism in the Nordic countries), 
            Skånska Konstmuseum, Lund University (outside the catalogue)
1938   Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, 
            Galerie Beaux Arts, Paris, organised by André Breton 
            and Paul Éluard.
1940   Surrealisme (Surrealistiske demonstrationer), Raadhuspladsens 
            Udstillingssal Copenhagen, with Erik Olson, 
            Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen, Freddie, and Harry Carlsson.
1944   Färg och Form, Stockholm, Group exhibition with 
            Alf-Jörgen Aas, Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen, Henrik Inne 
            and Egon Møller-Nielsen, catalogue 162
1945   Färg och Form, Stockholm, Christmas exhibition, catalogue 182
1947   Le Surréalisme en 1947, Galerie Maeght, Paris 
1948   Liniens udstilling – Den Frie, Copenhagen, 
            July 31st– August 15th
1950   Louis Hahnes Konsthandel, Stockholm
1950   The London Gallery, London, with Yves Tanguy 
            and Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen
1952   Konsthallen Örebro, with Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen
1952   Värmlands Museum, Karlstad, September 6ht - 24th
            with Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen
1970s Exhibits at smaller galleries in Seattle, such as 
            The National Gallery at The Bon Marché ca 1970   
            and Omnus Gallery ca 1974
2018   Kvindernes surrealisme, GL Strand, Copenhagen
2018   Kvindernes surrealisme, Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseum, 
            Tønder, Denmark
2020   Fantastische Frauen – Surreale Welten von Meret Oppenheim 
            bis Frida Kahlo, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt
2020   Fantastiske Kvinder – Surreelle verdener fra Meret Oppenheim 
            til Frida Kahlo, Louisiana, Denmark
2020  Surrealismens kvinnor, Mjällby Art Museum, Halmstad
2021  Flukten fra Fornuften: Nordisk Kunst og Det Okkulte
           SKMU Sørlandets Kunstuseum, Kristiansand, Norway
2021  Modernismens Pionerer. Et utvalg fra Tangen-samlingen
           SKMU Sørlandets Kunstuseum, Kristiansand, Norway
2022  En anden surrealisme, Den Frie, Copenhagen
2022 – 2023 En anden surrealisme, MSJ Kunstmuseet i 
           Tønder, Denmark
2022 – 2023 Konst, kamratskap och en doft av hav
          – Söndrum 1944 – 56, Hallands Konstmuseum, Halmstad, 
            May 21st 2022 – April 9th 2023
2023   We Kiss The Earth, COBRA Museum voor Moderne Kunst, 
            Amstelveen, Holland
2023.  På armlängds avstånd, Artepilag, Stockholm, 
            selection from the Tangen collection in Norway
2023   Surréalisme au féminin?, Musée de Montmartre, Paris
2023   Microcosmos – 20 miniatyrer, Belenius, Stockholm
2024 - 1925 A Legacy Rediscovered – 
            Northwest Women Artists 1920–1970
            Cascadia Art Museum, Edmonds, WA, USA

Museums and public collections:
Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseum, Tønder, Denmark
Museum Jorn, Silkeborg, Denmark 
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
Fuglsang Kunstmuseum, Guldborgsund, Denmark
Canica Art Collection, Oslo, Norway
AKO Kunststiftelse, Nicolai Tangen collection, Kristansand, Norway
Örebro Läns Museum, Örebro
Hallands Konstmuseum, Halmstad

Literature:
Carl V. Petersen Danske Kunstnere, Arthur Jensens Förlag, 
Copenhagen 1937

André Breton, Dictionnaire abrégé du surréalisme
Galerie Beaux-Arts, Paris 1938

Plastique, issue 3, ed. Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Paris och New York 1938

Marcel Jean, Histoire de la Peinture Surréaliste, Paris 1959

Sarane Alexandrian, Surrealist Art, Paris, London 1969/70

Den Forvandlede drøm, Surrealismen i 30’erne, Paris-København-Halmstad, Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen and Mjellby Art Centre, Halmstad 1997

Naja Pedersen, Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersens og Elsa Thoresens Udsmykninger Ved Volden 1939, Projekt Ved Volden, 2012

Kvindernes surrealisme, GL Strand, Copenhagen 2018

Fantastische Frauen/Fantastiske Kvinder, Schirn Kunsthalle/Louisiana, 
Frankfurt/Humlebaek 2020

Konst, kamratskap och en doft av hav – Söndrum 1944 – 56, 
Hallands Konstmuseum, Halmstad 2022 - 2023

We Kiss The Earth, Cobra Museum, Amstelveen Holland 2023

På armlängds avstånd, ett urval av Tangen-samlingen, 
Artepilag, Stockholm 2023

Surréalisme au féminin?, Musée de Montmartre, Paris 2023

Thomas Millroth, Good Luck Elsa Thoresen, first monograph
204 pages, Carlsson Bokförlag , Stockholm 2024