Saturday, July 8
As the second largest city in Sweden, Goteborg offers a more relaxed atmosphere than Stockholm. The founding fathers established the city in 1621 to rid themselves of the Danes’ taxing Swedish ships. Then to protect themselves they hired Dutch engineers and workers to build a defensive canal system.
Foreign trade followed by ship building boomed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries but crashed in the 1980s. Today commerce and industry (such as Volvo) generate the income for the residents.
The Avenyn, a long boulevard, stretches to a lovely art museum, the Kontsmuseet. We joined others walking around (it was a lovely day), passing “The reincarnation”, an interesting green sculpture by the Japanese Installation artist Tetsunori Kawana.
His words describe it best:
Michael had given us directions saying all we needed to do was mention we wanted to go to the Poisiden. No wonder as this statue stood arrogantly gazing down the Avenue as it guarded the museum’s doors behind hit.
The museum offered art ranging from the Old Masters (1450-1750) including works by Lucas Cranach the Younger and special exhibit on Rembrant (whose techniques were documented in an informative video)
to contemporary sculpture with a twirling fashionista modeled in styrofoam and covered in plaster. Bizaare and a bit mesmerizing to watch.
Of course, what’s modern art without something, well, some thing such as this piece by Lenke Rothman (1929-2008) called “Dedication. To El Greco and his Benefactors in the 1500s”.
You figure it out. I moved on.
We also saw some well-known French Impressionists (Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, for instance).
But, my attention focused on the Nordic artists. Different rooms featured either a period of art or a solo artist. Some were familiar after seeing them in other museums:
Erik Werenskiold (1855-1938)
His later paintings here seemed rougher, such as “Ray of Sunlight” (1891)
than ones I’d seen previously until I spotted this one, “On the Plain” (1883)
which is a sister painting to one I saw and loved in Oslo.
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
We’ve actually stood where he painted this gentleman in Kragero.
I was exposed to other art thanks to a collection of Pontus and Gothilda Furstenberg who have a gallery dedicated to artists at the turn of the century in 1900:
Carl Larsson (1853-1919) who worked in a variety of media, painting daily-life scenes
and light-hearted ones.
He even painted this gallery in 1885. It was easy to recognize some of the work hanging both in his picture and in the actual room.
Richard Bergh (1858-1919)
I loved the romantic atmosphere in his “Nordic Summer Evening” (1899-1900),
and his “Girl picking flowers” (1884)
Bruno Liljefors (1860-1939)
Look at the detail in this painting of a birds (1888). This artist represents the Opponents’ Movement, members of the Artist’s Union who opposed the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm. Luckily for them, Pontus Furstenberg supported them.
Ernest Josephson (1851-1906)
His portrait of “Nennie al Geijerstam” (1885) perfectly captures someone who appears relaxed and resigned to have her likeness immortalized in oil. Can’t you just see her saying “What? Again?!” ?
Alfred Wahlberg (1834-1906)
Since we’d recently docked in this harbor the title caught my eye: “Moonlight, Fjallbacka” (1881)
As did his “A May Day, Nice” (1878).
Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909)
Speaking of catching my eye, this artist’s “Hip, Hip, hurrah! Artists’ Pary, Skagen” (another town we almost visited this summer) (1888) features the painter himself an other artists/friends– standing, starting from the left: Martha Johansen, her husband Viggo Johansen, Christian Krohg, the parinter himself P.S. Kroyer, Degn Brondum, Michael Ancher, Oscar Bjorck and Thorvald Niss; Sitting, Helene Christiansen and Anna Ancher with her little daughter.
Viggo Johansen (1851-1935)
His “At Sunset” (1895) captures a stillness in spite of what must have been filled with a lot of quacking when he painted it.
Johan Krouthen (1858-1932)
I love the radiance in this “Haystacks, Summer Scene from Skagen” (1884).
Gustaf Fjaestad (1868-1948)
My photo doesn’t do this justice but it certainly brought winter into summer with his “Snow” (1900).
One room spoke of Matisse’s strong influence of Swedish painters, two of them being:
Isaac Grunewald (1889-1946)
“Jules Pascin, Artist” (1921)
and his wife Sigrid Hjerten (1885-1948)
“Figures on the Beach” (1917) whose depiction is exactly how I’d want to be captured if painted in my bathing suit…
More rooms and more artists continued to draw my eyes.
Some I liked…
Alf Lindberg (1905-1990)
“Death of the Dryads” (1965)
Some, not so much… Yet, any background information helps understand a painter’s work such as:
Ake Goransson (1902-42) was a hairdresser by training but pursued art studies as well. In the early ‘30s he isolated himself and his mom in a small, one-room flat and proceded to paint still lifes, interiors (no kidding), and street scenes viewed from his window. He was admitted to a hospital in 1937, and his mother burnt thousands of his drawings yet kept some paintings hidden in the kitchen sofa. They were discovered in the 1940s.
“Cat in the Basket” (1930-32)
Not necessarily something I’d hang on my wall but a pretty unique way to nurture one’s art…
In the 1930s the Gothenburg colorists became known for, what else, their bright colors. Ragnar Sandberg’s (1902-1972) work below demonstrates this:
“Card Players” (1938)
and his “Self Portrait” (1937)
Ivar Arosenius (1878-1909), an artist who also created a storybook illustrator and whose work was honored by hanging in a room of its own:
“Self Portrait” (1908)
He appears rather intense…
But his watercolor of “Self Portrait with Poultry and Pigs” places him in a friendlier scene but doesn’t appease his broodiness.
And, his “The Knight and the Six Maidens at the Table” (1905) takes one to an entirely playful world. Although, I have to say, his boxum ‘maidens’ would look just as comfortable sitting at a Hugh Hefner or Donald Trump feast…
Moving onto a much more innocent-looking scene: August Malmstrom’s (1829-1901) “The Little Girl’s Birthday” made me want to create a similar surprise birthday morning.
Sofie Ribbing’s (1835-1894) “Boys drawing” (1864) produces a a pin-drop quietude. I found myself almost tiptoeing past so as not to disturb their concentration.
And, of course, I couldn’t go past some marble figures without taking photos of two of them:
Per Hasselberg’s (1850-1894) “Grandfather”; no explanation needed.
and Monika Larsen Dennis’ (1963- ) shows what Auguste Rodin’s statue “The Kiss” could be if the man and woman just left their impressions.
After two hours we left for another part of the city, the Haga, where the Dutch workers (mentioned at the beginning of this post) lived. Now it’s a happening place, thrumming on this beautiful summer day with strollers, shoppers, and al fresco diners.
Which reminded us of wanting to get back to Syrso to continue our Swedish summer weekend :)