The obsession of Hendrik Christian Andersen and his love for Henry James
Hendrik Christian Andersen was a Norwegian artist, he used to live in Rhode Island but after an Euro trip with his family, at the age of 21, he decided to move to Rome and spend his life there.
He was a sculptor, a painter and a writer; and his artworks where based in the classic masterpieces. When he arrived in Rome he became appreciated by writers, journalists and intellectuals, that made him to became part of the elite of foreigners living at the Italian capital.
When Andersen was 27 years old he met Henry James, an American patriot and writer, 30 years older. They fell in love and during their lives they exchanged different love letters as the one that James wrote to Andersen after Andersen’s brother died:
“The sense that I can’t help you, see you, talk to you, touch you, hold you close & long, or do anything to make you rest on my, & feel my deep participation – this torments me, dearest boy, makes my ache for you, & for myself; makes me gnash my teeth & groan at the bitterness of things. . . . “
Andersen’s obsession became with the creation of a utopian “World City”, destined to be the international headquarters of a perpetual lab of ideas in the field of arts, sciences, philosophical and religious.
The city was supposed to be call as “the World Center of Communication” and it supposed to be an experimental world capital without a precise political rule where the best of the west such as magnificent buildings and monumental sculptures.
Even though the great love that James had for Andersen, he lost patience and wrote him:
“I simply loathe such pretentious forms of words as “World” anything-they are to me mere monstrous sound without sense…”
James died in 1916, and Andersen kept writing and creating a lot of art pieces in Rome. When Andersen died in 1940, he left everything to the Italian Government, including his home “Villa Hélène”, his studio, his documents and more than 400 art pieces.
If you visit Rome, you can find the museum Andersen in piazzale Flaminio, there you will find a lot of Andersen art pieces including another contemporary artists and photographers.