The Art of Viggo Mortensen

As I discovered that Tony Curtis was an artist I decided to research a little and see if there were any other celebrities out there that had a passion for art and I stumbled upon Viggo Mortensen, who not only does great paintings but is also a poet, a photographer and a bit of a musician. So here is his biography with some of his works.


Viggo Mortensen
Pukerua Bay, 2003

Viggo Mortensen was born October 20, 1958, in Manhattan, New York. He has two younger brothers. His parents, Viggo P. Mortensen from Denmark and Grace from New York, met in Europe. They settled initially in New York, but while Viggo was still very young, the family moved to South America. There Viggo’s father managed farms and ranches in Argentina and Venezuela. His parents divorced in 1969, after which Viggo’s mother took her three boys back to Watertown, New York. Viggo keeps a fondness for South America, and is a great fan of the Argentine soccer team San Lorenzo.


Viggo was a good student at Watertown High School. He played on the tennis team, and was captain of the swim team. While in high school, he took up photography and spent many hours taking pictures. After graduating in 1976, he went to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where he earned degrees in Government and Spanish. With no career immediately presenting itself, Viggo moved to Denmark, where his father’s family still lives. He began writing poetry and fiction, supporting himself with odd jobs including dock worker and flower seller.

Viggo followed a girlfriend back to New York City in 1982, where he found work as a bartender and waiter and took two years of acting classes from Warren Robertson. After acting in several plays, he moved to Los Angeles, where he had a part in a television mini-series (George Washington) and started landing film roles. His scenes were deleted from the first two films, but the director of Witness liked Viggo well enough to expand his small role as Daniel Hochleitner’s brother into a speaking part.

Viggo continued to work at his craft, with a guest spot on television’s Miami Vice and a role in the Search for Tomorrow soap opera. In 1987, he met Christine “Exene” Cervenka, lead singer for the punk rock band “X,” on the set of Salvation!. They were married soon after, and their son, Henry Blake Mortensen, was born January 28, 1988. The couple moved to Idaho for several years. In 1997 they split up, moving back to Los Angeles, where they share custody of Henry.

Over the past 20 years, Viggo has had roles in over 35 films. (See Viggo’s Filmography.) He has continued to explore and create in the fields of photography, poetry, art, and music. A few years ago, Viggo Mortensen and Pilar Perez started Perceval Press, a small, independent publisher specializing in art, critical writing, and poetry. The intention of the press is to publish texts, images, and recordings that otherwise might not be presented. Viggo and Perceval Press have also taken a strong stand against the war in Iraq. See the Viggo Politics page for more information.

Partly as a result of his international upbringing and travels, Viggo is fluent in English, Spanish, and Danish, and can get by in French, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian. He worked as a translator for the Swedish hockey team during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. He also learned some Maori while filming Lord of the Rings in New Zealand, and studied the language of the Lakotah for his role in Hidalgo.


Author: James Presley

I am an artist and I love it. What do I have to do to live from what I love? I'm not dying or cutting me bloody ear off, that's for sure.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Viggo Mortensen”

  1. There is a reflection in his art that is very familiar to me I have found incredible how many thinks we have in common and then again maybe none… this, his journey is a blessing one I know his essence


  2. Art is transcendent. Boundaries and limitations exist solely within the psyche. There are those who strive for technical perfection; a true artist is driven by his/her passion alone.


  3. Yes, Percival Press is an interesting little ‘rag’… hard to ‘find’ though on book shelves, best to ferret via internet … One of my favourite ‘up & coming’ actors too … Was great in Hildago (might have spelt that wrong, the one about the famour cross-Sahara horse race….).. He carries both enigma and empathy well, translatiion? one quietly sexy dude … Best, c


  4. Very impressed by the painting, he’s really good. He actually played the role of a painter in one of his movies. He’s one of my favourite actors, but never knew any of these about him.


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