(1882 - 1931)
In the late 1920s, Danish landscape painter Einar Wegener poses as a female dancer for his wife, artist Gerda Wegener, while she waits for her model to arrive. Stirred by the experience and supported by Gerda’s compassion and unconditional love, Einar begins a journey fraught with both emotional and physical peril as he transitions into his true self, a woman called Lili Elbe. This is the story behind the highly acclaimed film, The Danish Girl,directed by Tom Hooper, a 2016 Academy Award winner for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Alicia Vikander, and nominee for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Eddie Redymane, and Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.
The film has been featured in countless publications, among them, VOGUE, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair and others. Hooper decided early on that the best way to tell the story of these two avant grade artists was through their own work. While Einar’s landscapes were a hit in Denmark, Gerda’s feminine portraits were never quite accepted by the Danish community. After Einar started transitioning into Lili, she became Gerda’s muse. Gerda’s art nouveau portraits of Lili became her breakthrough and earned her fame and recognition as an artist in Paris. The film is based on David Ebershoff’s novel of the same name, which drew inspiration from Lili’s personal journals.
Lili Elbe was born Einar Wegener in Vejle, Denmark in 1882 and moved to Copenhagen to study art at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts as a teenager. After marrying Gerda Gottlieb, Elbe realized her true gender identity and began to live her life as a woman. After undergoing four risky surgical procedures to transform her body from male to female, Elbe died from post-operative complications in Dresden, Germany, just shy of her 50th birthday. The story of her life was made into two books, Man into Woman, and the international best seller, The Danish Girl, as well as the highly acclaimed 2015 film of the same title.