Edvard Munch was not just an expressionist painter, he was one of the first. While people were skeptical of his new ways of painting, he managed to pull a new movement into existence. Munch’s paintings and prints showed the raw emotion he was experiencing in his early life and Munch painted so the viewers of his work would feel that way as well. While the events in each painting are personal to Munch, the characters are portrayed with such strong emotion and yet so vaguely, they become personal to any viewer. Having seen these in real life gave me the true experience of feeling what Munch felt, seeing what he saw, both through his eyes and his heart. I chose to research Munch because to understand someone’s personality through art is a one-of-a-kind experience.
For more than 300 years, rosemaling–the distinctive folk art of decorative painting, has been a symbol of Norway and Norwegian culture worldwide. From the rural valleys of Telemark to the lakes of Minnesota, this rich artistic practice has evolved into diverse and ever developing styles. Rosemaling’s origins are in European rococo and baroque scroll and floral designs. With their long tradition of woodcarving and craft making, Nordic farmers dexterously adopted these popular motifs from urban artisans and subsequently established a far-reaching, freely interpreted movement of painting. The bright hues and swirling composition, the legendary histories, and the ties to both woodworking and my family, draw me to rosemaling. I hope to see this distinctive embodiment of Norsk kultur continue to thrive for many generations.
Gustav Vigeland was one of the most prolific Norwegian sculptors. He created a style uniquely his own after being influenced by multiple neo-classical and realist sculptors. In 1921, he entered a contract with the city of Oslo. In exchange for studio space and a salary for the remainder of his lifetime, He donated all of his works to the city and agreed to having his studio turned into a museum after his death. His life project became creating sculptures for Frogner Park, the area around his studio. Now the park is the home of his grand fountain and many other monumental and brilliant granite and bronze sculptures. I chose Gustav Vigeland as a topic because I was in the park in 2010, and I remembered its vast beauty. Visiting again, and researching the artist prior to doing so made it even more meaningful. It isn’t a typical art museum. There were thousands of people in the park, from tourists to local Norwegians enjoying the sunshine.
Karl Johan’s Gate is a street that held a lot of meaning for Edward Munch. In 1890 he painted, “Spring Day on Karl Johan’s Street,” in an impressionist style. After his father died, Munch wanted to make paintings that were more powerful. He wanted to paint feelings that show people who suffer, breathe, and love. He then recreated his “Spring Day” painting with the action in the scene occurring in the night rather than in the daytime. The sky was darker and the people portrayed seemed anxiety-ridden. He titled it, “Evening on Karl Johan.” The Grand Café was a popular hangout for artists in the late 1800s and Munch used the café as the background for his paintings, “Ibsen at the Grand Café” and “Kristiania Boheme,” which features an image of Oda Krohg. One of my favorite paintings is “Madonna.” It has a special power because Munch was romantically involved with the model, Dagny Juel.
Carl and Karin Larsson are as Swedish as apple pie is American. They remain relevant as artists and designers draw from them for inspiration. Both from Stockholm, Carl and Karin met while living in Paris amongst other Scandinavian artists whom were studying art and trying to find success. When Carl switched from oil to watercolor, he found the medium with which he would create amazing and distinctive pieces. When they moved to Sundborn and started a large family, Karin’s artistic efforts shifted and focused on her home. Her colorful, airy, cozy, and sunlight interiors were unique, but embodied the ideal Swedish lifestyle. Her inspiration from Japan led to innovative combinations of color, pattern, and furniture that which make the home so lovely in the eyes of Sweden. Carl’s vivid yet endearing paintings of his home and family were much more casual in subject matter than had ever been seen before. What I love most about Carl & Karin is that they each had individual artistic qualities, but their marriage is what makes the combination of their home, family, and Carl’s talented painting truly fantastic. Together, the Larsson family started a new wave of style that is uniquely Swedish but with universal appeal.
Carl Malmsten (1888–1972) was not well known in 1916 when he entered a contest to design the furniture for the Stockholm City Hall. The judging was anonymous and when he was chosen, some of the judges wanted to take the award back. His designs were so strong, he received the award and launched a successful career in furniture design. His designs were fresh, simple, and used organic forms and light colored woods. He designed a chair for the World’s Fair in Paris in 1937. He was interested in hands-on, active education and founded two schools, Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies in Stockholm and Capellagården on the island of Öland, both of which are still in operation. I think Carl Malmsten is interesting because he knew that traditional schooling doesn’t always work, especially for artists. It got my attention when he said that people learn with their hands. He said the best way to learn is to try something yourself first and then when you really can’t get it right, that’s when you ask for help. We met Carl Malmsten’s grandson, Jerk Malmsten, who runs the store, Marlmstenbutiken.
Acne, an acronym for Ambition to Create Novel Expression started as a small creative firm that stumbled upon the fashion world and ended up making it big. In 1996 Jonny Johansson and his dream team of creatives developed the brand with every intention of being more than just a label. Rather quickly Acne became a family of several creative branches, advertising, design, commercial film production, online games, toys, web production and mobile phone apps. The brand deliberately shies away from traditional media outlets and is promoted mainly through their own Acne Paper, a bi-annual culture magazine. Acne, with their headquarters in Stockholm, manages a multifunctional company which synthesizes art and design, really expressing the idea of art for all. To me the company comes across as pure, sophisticated and cultured for that reason. Acne has a long history of collaborating with artists. Acnes most recent collection was inspired by the Swedish artist, Hilma af Klint and can be purchased at their clothing stores around the world.