David Leon Fiene
Director and Cinematographer
Director and Cinematographer

Hitler’s Bathtub

6 minute read


In a studio in Barcelona, the artist and graphic designer Mads Vine is working on a portrait of the iconic Lee Miller, and the setting is Hitler's bathtub.

Text by Laurits Hennigsen
Photography by David Leon Fiene


On a Sunday morning a few years ago, Mads Vine, a graphic designer and painter, was listening to a podcast about the American war photographer Lee Miller. She had just entered one of the Nazi concentration camps as one of the first photographers when she heard that Adolf Hitler had a residence in Munich. Shortly after the Nazi leader blew his brains out, Lee Miller and her companion David E. Scherman decided to break into his empty house, and then one of the most controversial photographs of the 20th century was born.

"In the picture, you see Lee Miller washing herself in Hitler's bathtub, moments before she had eye-witnessed the horrors of one of the nazi concentration camps. In the picture, her muddy boots are standing on the floor with the dirt of the camp. It is a very controversial photograph, but the craziest element of the picture is the small detail you see to the very left. It is a portrait of Hitler. The psycho had a picture of himself in his bathroom. Who the fuck would do that. Well, Hitler would," Mads Vine says.




The picture and the story behind it immediately fascinated him, so he decided to paint the setting on a canvas the size of the back of a cargo truck. This was the first "real painting" - as he says - that the 26 year old Dane living in Barcelona had ever commenced. Just before covid-19 forced Barcelona into a lockdown in early 2020, he bought brushes and oil for most of his money. However unfortunate, the virus provided an opportunity to really dig into the craft of painting. A craft that Mads Vine has always found equally inspiring and frightening - the latter to such an extent that it has kept him from picking up the brush.




Endless nights and lousy tattoos

I am about to embark on the story of Mads Vine's youth and his relationship to creativity. But before we get to that, let me be honest with you. I know Mads. Very well, actually. Since we met shortly after high school, he has been one of my closest friends, and for a year, we lived together in Barcelona before he attended the design school IED Barcelona, and I went back to Denmark to study journalism.


As best as I can remember, the backdrop of our shared story is painted in the hazy colours of endless intoxicated nights and with the voices of David Bowie and Lou Reed providing the soundtrack. I remember faintly how our primitive living room was transformed into the lousiest tattoo studio in all of Barcelona. I remember Mads, despite having zero experience, itching into my skin the first three tattoos of my life. A fact he clings to so strongly that he was subsequently pissed when I started getting tattooed by other artists.

"You are my living canvas,” he would say.

I remember us sharing a youthful lust for life and a desire to push ourselves as close to the edge as possible. We had fun. But I also remember Mads as a very creative and reflective person with a peculiar mind and an extreme passion for art.




From boredom to pursuing art

Well, Mads Vine describes his childhood and youth as a cliche when it comes to his relationship to art. He grew up in a small Danish town called Skive with his parents, brother, and dog Emma. He was the kid in school that did not rush to the football field in the breaks. Instead, he was filling his otherwise empty school notebooks with doodles and drawings. He has been interested in arts for as long as he can remember despite not coming from an artistic home.

"But it was a safe place, and my parents have always encouraged me to draw and do arts. I was kind of alone with my interest in drawing among my friends, and I remember two photographs my mother once showed me. It was my birthday, and I had invited friends over to my house. In one photo, all of my friends were sitting in my brother's room playing Nintendo. In the other photo, I, the birthday boy, was sitting alone in my room drawing with my new pencils,” he says.




"I actually hated that teacher to my bones, and I'm sure she felt the same way about me. But in the art classes, our connection was different, and her words gave me a lot of confidence.”

After boarding school followed three years of high school. School did not interest him at all, and he did not even try to fit in. So after a three-year struggle to barely graduate, with the vast majority of his time spent getting drunk at bars, he decided to leave Skive and follow his passion for arts and creativity.


"I had some friends in a town called Holstebro close to Skive (yes, I was one of those friends). There was a Talent Academy of art and design there, so I applied for the school, and to my surprise, I was accepted. All of a sudden, I was in a space where people experimented and created different things. I have done some of my most experimental work in terms of sculptures and installations in these years. I had people pushing me to do whatever I wanted. So it was a free space, and it gave me the confidence to try out many different things and mediums.”




Stuck in Barcelona

Shortly after his time at the Talent Academy of art and design, Mads Vine travelled around Europe for six months. He did not have much money so he spent his nights as a couchsurfer in random peoples' apartments. When he came to Barcelona, he instantly fell in love with the city and a drunk night out forced him to stay.

"I went out dancing with some friends I had met in Barcelona. I do not remember much, but suddenly I find myself waking up on a bench in the morning. Fuck. My wallet and my phone were gone, and I didn't know what to do.”

Returning to the apartment where he had stayed, he was forced to remain in Barcelona until he figured out what to do. The people he stayed with studied at a design school called Istituto Europeo di Design Barcelona and he started doing smaller projects with them. The interest in design grew in him, and a year later, he got the only scholarship for graphic design and became a student at the school himself.


"I was scooping around with this drawing thing without knowing where it was taking me. I did not want to apply for an academy of art, and I was attracted to the atmosphere in Barcelona where I quickly surrounded myself with a creative environment based in design.”

Where he was free to do whatever he wanted at the art school in Holstebro, design adhered to a lot of rules, and it changed his view on inspiration and references that he now uses in his paintings.

"Now I have learned the importance of references. I had a naive idea before that I had to invent the wheel myself. I learned that design is about looking at other peoples work, learning from it and taking elements to create your own concepts and expressions. The same goes for painting. It is about training the eye to really look and observe things and, in that process, find out what you like yourself."



Study and painting

Today Mads Vine has lived in Barcelona for more than four years studying graphic design with a passion for editorial design. At the moment, he is finishing his thesis, and this summer, he will be a graduate. But when not hunched over his computer for school, he spends most of his time painting in his studio in the creative district of Poble Nou in Barcelona. The painting of Lee Miller in Hitlers bathtub is finally taking shape, and since he picked up the brush in the beginning of the quarantine, he has been productive on many different projects and canvases.

He sometimes publishes his work on his Instagram account @mads_vine, and in the past years, he has started selling works. Before picking up the oil brush, he has worked with all kinds of different mediums, constantly producing work, and he has done several exhibitions in Denmark, mainly conceptual installations. Right now, however, his focus is on painting with oil.

"I constantly work on four to six different canvases. My process of working is very straightforward, I think. I spend many hours flicking through art books, and I stumble upon everyday things that could be interesting to paint. I recently started a series of paintings I call 'Boring Things', as I'm simply painting boring things such as drying racks, washing machines, and dirty dishes. There are not any rules or a specific process."

On a typical day, he goes to his studio and works with design until 6 or 7 p.m. after which  he paints for a few hours until he goes home to sleep.

"This is how my day is structured at the moment, but in the future, I wish it could be the other way around, so I work with design for 4 hours and then paint for the rest of the day.”

"I am still learning how to paint, and I lean on references. Right now, I am looking at a lot of living painters, for example, Ben Crase, Farshad Farzankia, Daniel Romeril and Florence Hutchings, to mention a few. I really want to reach something honest when I am painting, but the problem is that you quickly get dishonest when you try really hard to be honest. I try to make it look like there are not too many thoughts behind it, even though I think about it all the time. I always aim to make my paintings sort of 'naive'. It cannot look too perfect, I find that uninteresting.”

Honesty is about feelings. So how do you know when you have made an honest painting?

"It is difficult to describe. I like to paint things that people know and understand, but then I bend it. That gives a human touch, and that is honest to me. For Example, If I paint a moka-pot completely as it looks, then it is not my moka-pot. But if I bend the curves and put some naivety into it, then it becomes my moka, and that is honest to me.”




Scared of painting

Mads Vine bought the canvas for Lee Miller in Hitlers bathtub three years ago. He immediately grounded the canvas and painted large surfaces of flat colourfields to build up the depth of the painting. But it was to take him two years before he started working on it for real. Somehow, painting with oil has been a frightening thought.

"Painting has just always had a strong impact on my life. I have always loved the idea of creating and making things. I am attracted to the feeling of creating, but I have been scared to paint myself because of my love for the art of painting itself. There has always been an element of awe involved.”

He has been going to museums his whole life looking at painters such as Rembrandt, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Guston and Tal R.

"It stimulates me a lot, and it evokes many emotions. So how can I take this up? I do not have much schooling, and for a long time, I thought it was essential that I did things in the traditional way, the right way. That kept me from picking up the paintbrush, but now I have realised that no one cares about it anyways. It is just about doing it.”

Thanks to Malthe Hangaard Dahl





Laurits Hennigsen is a journalist. He lives in Copenhagen and writes for the Danish daily Politiken. He is a passionate and fairly skilled table tennis player always scouting for new outdoor spots for playing in the city.


David Leon Fiene is a filmmaker and designer. He greatly enjoys working with designers, artists, and artisans, reflecting on the journey to owning one’s craft.






Hitler’s Bathtub

6 minute read


In a studio in Barcelona, the artist and graphic designer Mads Vine is working on a portrait of the iconic Lee Miller, and the setting is Hitler's bathtub.



Text by Laurits Hennigsen
Photography by David Leon Fiene

On a Sunday morning a few years ago, Mads Vine, a graphic designer and painter, was listening to a podcast about the American war photographer Lee Miller. She had just entered one of the Nazi concentration camps as one of the first photographers when she heard that Adolf Hitler had a residence in Munich. Shortly after the Nazi leader blew his brains out, Lee Miller and her companion David E. Scherman decided to break into his empty house, and then one of the most controversial photographs of the 20th century was born.

"In the picture, you see Lee Miller washing herself in Hitler's bathtub, moments before she had eye-witnessed the horrors of one of the nazi concentration camps. In the picture, her muddy boots are standing on the floor with the dirt of the camp. It is a very controversial photograph, but the craziest element of the picture is the small detail you see to the very left. It is a portrait of Hitler. The psycho had a picture of himself in his bathroom. Who the fuck would do that. Well, Hitler would," Mads Vine says.




The picture and the story behind it immediately fascinated him, so he decided to paint the setting on a canvas the size of the back of a cargo truck. This was the first "real painting" - as he says - that the 26 year old Dane living in Barcelona had ever commenced. Just before covid-19 forced Barcelona into a lockdown in early 2020, he bought brushes and oil for most of his money. However unfortunate, the virus provided an opportunity to really dig into the craft of painting. A craft that Mads Vine has always found equally inspiring and frightening - the latter to such an extent that it has kept him from picking up the brush.








Endless nights and
lousy tattoos
I am about to embark on the story of Mads Vine's youth and his relationship to creativity. But before we get to that, let me be honest with you. I know Mads. Very well, actually. Since we met shortly after high school, he has been one of my closest friends, and for a year, we lived together in Barcelona before he attended the design school IED Barcelona, and I went back to Denmark to study journalism.

As best as I can remember, the backdrop of our shared story is painted in the hazy colours of endless intoxicated nights and with the voices of David Bowie and Lou Reed providing the soundtrack. I remember faintly how our primitive living room was transformed into the lousiest tattoo studio in all of Barcelona. I remember Mads, despite having zero experience, itching into my skin the first three tattoos of my life. A fact he clings to so strongly that he was subsequently pissed when I started getting tattooed by other artists.

"You are my living canvas,” he would say.

I remember us sharing a youthful lust for life and a desire to push ourselves as close to the edge as possible. We had fun. But I also remember Mads as a very creative and reflective person with a peculiar mind and an extreme passion for art.


"You are my living canvas,” he would say.





From boredom to
pursuing art
Well, Mads Vine describes his childhood and youth as a cliche when it comes to his relationship to art. He grew up in a small Danish town called Skive with his parents, brother, and dog Emma. He was the kid in school that did not rush to the football field in the breaks. Instead, he was filling his otherwise empty school notebooks with doodles and drawings. He has been interested in arts for as long as he can remember despite not coming from an artistic home.




"But it was a safe place, and my parents have always encouraged me to draw and do arts. I was kind of alone with my interest in drawing among my friends, and I remember two photographs my mother once showed me. It was my birthday, and I had invited friends over to my house. In one photo, all of my friends were sitting in my brother's room playing Nintendo. In the other photo, I, the birthday boy, was sitting alone in my room drawing with my new pencils,” he says.





At the age of 15, Mads ventured on to a Danish boarding school where he started taking art classes. Until that point he had encountered little encouragement to his interest in drawing and creating. But here his art teacher saw talent and pushed him to pursue his interest.





"I actually hated that teacher to my bones, and I'm sure she felt the same way about me. But in the art classes, our connection was different, and her words gave me a lot of confidence.”


After boarding school followed three years of high school. School did not interest him at all, and he did not even try to fit in. So after a three-year struggle to barely graduate, with the vast majority of his time spent getting drunk at bars, he decided to leave Skive and follow his passion for arts and creativity.


"I had some friends in a town called Holstebro close to Skive (yes, I was one of those friends). There was a Talent Academy of art and design there, so I applied for the school, and to my surprise, I was accepted. All of a sudden, I was in a space where people experimented and created different things. I have done some of my most experimental work in terms of sculptures and installations in these years. I had people pushing me to do whatever I wanted. So it was a free space, and it gave me the confidence to try out many different things and mediums.”






Stuck in Barcelona
Shortly after his time at the Talent Academy of art and design, Mads Vine travelled around Europe for six months. He did not have much money so he spent his nights as a couchsurfer in random peoples' apartments. When he came to Barcelona, he instantly fell in love with the city and a drunk night out forced him to stay.


"I went out dancing with some friends I had met in Barcelona. I do not remember much, but suddenly I find myself waking up on a bench in the morning. Fuck. My wallet and my phone were gone, and I didn't know what to do.”



“...design is about looking at other peoples work, learning from it and taking elements to create your own concepts and expressions. The same goes for painting.”
Returning to the apartment where he had stayed, he was forced to remain in Barcelona until he figured out what to do. The people he stayed with studied at a design school called Istituto Europeo di Design Barcelona and he started doing smaller projects with them. The interest in design grew in him, and a year later, he got the only scholarship for graphic design and became a student at the school himself.

"I was scooping around with this drawing thing without knowing where it was taking me. I did not want to apply for an academy of art, and I was attracted to the atmosphere in Barcelona where I quickly surrounded myself with a creative environment based in design.”

Where he was free to do whatever he wanted at the art school in Holstebro, design adhered to a lot of rules, and it changed his view on inspiration and references that he now uses in his paintings.

"Now I have learned the importance of references. I had a naive idea before that I had to invent the wheel myself. I learned that design is about looking at other peoples work, learning from it and taking elements to create your own concepts and expressions. The same goes for painting. It is about training the eye to really look and observe things and, in that process, find out what you like yourself."




Study and painting
Today Mads Vine has lived in Barcelona for more than four years studying graphic design with a passion for editorial design. At the moment, he is finishing his thesis, and this summer, he will be a graduate. But when not hunched over his computer for school, he spends most of his time painting in his studio in the creative district of Poble Nou in Barcelona. The painting of Lee Miller in Hitlers bathtub is finally taking shape, and since he picked up the brush in the beginning of the quarantine, he has been productive on many different projects and canvases.

He sometimes publishes his work on his Instagram account @mads_vine, and in the past years, he has started selling works. Before picking up the oil brush, he has worked with all kinds of different mediums, constantly producing work, and he has done several exhibitions in Denmark, mainly conceptual installations. Right now, however, his focus is on painting with oil.

Honesty is about feelings. So how do you know when you have made an honest painting?
"I constantly work on four to six different canvases. My process of working is very straightforward, I think. I spend many hours flicking through art books, and I stumble upon everyday things that could be interesting to paint. I recently started a series of paintings I call 'Boring Things', as I'm simply painting boring things such as drying racks, washing machines, and dirty dishes. There are not any rules or a specific process."

On a typical day, he goes to his studio and works with design until 6 or 7 p.m. after which  he paints for a few hours until he goes home to sleep.

"This is how my day is structured at the moment, but in the future, I wish it could be the other way around, so I work with design for 4 hours and then paint for the rest of the day.”

"I am still learning how to paint, and I lean on references. Right now, I am looking at a lot of living painters, for example, Ben Crase, Farshad Farzankia, Daniel Romeril and Florence Hutchings, to mention a few. I really want to reach something honest when I am painting, but the problem is that you quickly get dishonest when you try really hard to be honest. I try to make it look like there are not too many thoughts behind it, even though I think about it all the time. I always aim to make my paintings sort of 'naive'. It cannot look too perfect, I find that uninteresting.”

Honesty is about feelings. So how do you know when you have made an honest painting?

"It is difficult to describe. I like to paint things that people know and understand, but then I bend it. That gives a human touch, and that is honest to me. For Example, If I paint a moka-pot completely as it looks, then it is not my moka-pot. But if I bend the curves and put some naivety into it, then it becomes my moka, and that is honest to me.”





Scared of painting
Mads Vine bought the canvas for Lee Miller in Hitlers bathtub three years ago. He immediately grounded the canvas and painted large surfaces of flat colourfields to build up the depth of the painting. But it was to take him two years before he started working on it for real. Somehow, painting with oil has been a frightening thought.

"Painting has just always had a strong impact on my life. I have always loved the idea of creating and making things. I am attracted to the feeling of creating, but I have been scared to paint myself because of my love for the art of painting itself. There has always been an element of awe involved.”

He has been going to museums his whole life looking at painters such as Rembrandt, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Guston and Tal R.

"It stimulates me a lot, and it evokes many emotions. So how can I take this up? I do not have much schooling, and for a long time, I thought it was essential that I did things in the traditional way, the right way. That kept me from picking up the paintbrush, but now I have realised that no one cares about it anyways. It is just about doing it.”

Thanks to Malthe Hangaard Dahl





Laurits Hennigsen is a journalist. He lives in Copenhagen and writes for the Danish daily Politiken. He is a passionate and fairly skilled table tennis player always scouting for new outdoor spots for playing in the city.


David Leon Fiene is a filmmaker and designer. He greatly enjoys working with designers, artists, and artisans, reflecting on the journey to owning one’s craft.