The Cohn Family (1918)- Clockwise: Ludvig, Marie, Birgitte (Bitte), Gerson, the dog Mulle, Thora (Dutte) and Benny

The Cohn Family (1918)- Clockwise: Ludvig, Marie, Birgitte (Bitte), Gerson, the dog Mulle, Thora (Dutte) and Benny

 Family reunion (2014). Eva, Vikki (Thora's grandchild) and Ditte in front of the Appleton Museum for the opening of the "Benny Collin" exhibition

Family reunion (2014). Eva, Vikki (Thora's grandchild) and Ditte in front of the Appleton Museum for the opening of the "Benny Collin" exhibition

 A stack of hidden Benny paintings came to light again in 2013

A stack of hidden Benny paintings came to light again in 2013

The Story

When Benny finally decided to move to USA in 1950 he left all his old paintings and water colors in his brother Gerson’s care. They were stacked, most of them unframed, at the attic in his house in Holte. When Gerson and his family moved, the paintings moved along, still in the attic hiding in a special room, “Uncle Benny’s Loft”. Benny’s old bag with paints, his palette and old brushes were stored there too.

Whenever Benny visited Denmark, he went up to the attic and had a look at the paintings. The amount of unframed paintings (more than 250) made it difficult to decide what to do, they just stayed there.

Anders and Eva, Gerson’s son and daughter loved to go up and have a look at the paintings – there was such a good smell of oil paint in the room. The kids were of course not allowed to touch anything.

Time went by, Gerson died and neither Anders nor Eva had room for the paintings. The paintings were moved to the attic where Benny’s sister Birgitte lived. Benny continued visiting Denmark and he had a look at the paintings every time he was back from USA.

Benny died in 1980 his paintings stayed in the attic with his sister.  After some years Birgitte got sick. At the hospital the last week she lived; she called Anders and Eva and asked them to take care of the paintings. They moved them to another attic in the family, still no decision on what to do. Every time the paintings were moved, some were given away to family members and friends, but still more than two hundred were left.

After some years the attic story finally came to an end and a decision had to be made. Anders knew an art expert; she took her time and went through the whole stack of paintings. She took out about hundred canvasses to make an exhibition through a gallery owner she knew. The rest of the paintings were divided between Anders and Eva and stocked away in basements, cupboards, lofts and ……

Unfortunately the gallery owner died and so did the art expert – the 100 canvasses got back to Anders who managed to store them away in the basement.

Out of the dark

More than 25 years went by. Anders got sick and died in 2013. Suddenly Anders’ daughter Ditte was responsible for about 180 canvasses stored in basements and in the old family summer house in Hundested.  Eva still also had around 80 canvasses in her care stored in the basement of her house.

Ditte and Eva (we) decided that new energy had to come into the story. Going through all the paintings we found out that our collection represented a very gifted painter and artist and we had to do something to make his work more known and spread out to a wider public.

At the same time our American part of the family who had inherited all of Benny’s American paintings took the same decision. They created a wonderful exhibition with Benny’s abstract American paintings at Appleton Museum, Ocala, Florida in 2014. 

Now we have registered all of the “Danish Collection” canvasses. Some have already been restored.

After more or less 60 years in the dark; Uncle Benny’s paintings are coming out in the open ready to spread joy around them and to be appreciated by a much larger group of people.

Ditte & Eva

 More than 200 canvases saw daylight for the first time in 40 years

More than 200 canvases saw daylight for the first time in 40 years