Local | New acquisitions: Photographic royal portraits in time

By on May 17, 2016

On the occasion of Carl XVI Gustaf’s 70th birthday, has the National Museum Friends to the National Portrait Gallery in Gripsholm Castle handed a gift of eight portraits representational H. M. King and members of the royal family. The photographic portraits are executed by four renowned Swedish photographers: Dawid (Bjorn Dawidsson), Bruno Ehrs, Thron Ullberg and Mattias Edwall. Although several of them are official, they have retained a distinctive personality. They each represent both tradition and innovation.

Dawid (Bjorn Dawidsson, born 1949) is considered one of Sweden’s foremost photographers and was one of the first who worked with conceptual photography. He debuted in 1973, but made a definite breakthrough a decade later with the exhibition Rost on the Photographic Museum (now an integral part of the Museum of Modern Art). He showed then, as later how the apparently banal in a rusty and bent nails can turn into something unique and artistically expressive. Since then Dawid in his works stretched the time-honored concepts and the limits of what is considered art photography. Through his attraction to the non-figurative art, he has been interested in photogrammetric, a simple technique that the american Man Ray and the swede Olle Nyman worked with during 1920-30 centuries and that means that objects placed directly on the copy paper, which is illuminated. Seemingly trivial things get a mysterious, almost magical charisma.

Although Dawid primarily associated with a kind of avant-garde and abstract photography, he has also made many strong and empathetic friend portrait. For the more unusual is his innovative portrait of H. M. King (2005), which became the model of a postage stamp after year on the occasion of the 60th anniversary. Despite the contemporary character reconnects Dawid here to the classic rule portrait in profile dating back to since antiquity.

Bruno Ehrs (born 1953) began operations as a photographer at the Stockholm City Museum during the legendary Lennart af Petersens. This made him very familiar with photographing architecture, a knowledge that he was most recently demonstrated in a book about the French castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte (Flammarion 2015). Since the early 1980s, he appears as a freelance.

Ehrs have been working on his own projects and commissioned photography for newspapers, magazines, books and advertising. He has held some twenty solo exhibitions in Sweden and abroad and brought out a handful of his own books. Ehrs include published works focusing on photographic history (Goodwin beautiful Stockholm 1999). In connection with the Stockholm 750 years Ehrs made a series of portraits of famous Stockholmers. One of them was Carl XVI Gustaf. This acquired at the National Portrait Gallery and appeared on the exhibition Kings in black and white at Gripsholm Castle on the occasion of H. M. The King’s 60th birthday. Ehrs also continue hired by the royal family for official portraits and debuted in 2010 with specimens of stamps depicted the Swedish royal couple.

Thron Ullberg (born 1969) is one of Sweden’s leading portrait photographers. He began studying art history but soon focused on photography. Ullberg often work with large format camera and traditional negatives that is processed digitally, a sign of the love of the old photographic craftsmanship. The portraits are deliberately staged, with special pictorial associations and a theatrical character with inspiration from advertising and fashion photo, film and video. In Ullbergs portraits are both examples of intimacy and distance, the skin-and the official. His portraits often have to come to a specific context – for the press and especially different picture magazine. They may have artistic pretensions, but still marked by the context they created. Not least, the famous face is an important prerequisite for the portrait radiance. The image of H. M. King on Logårdsparterren is taken just for an article about the majesty.

Mattias Edwall (born 1958) is both still and cinematographer. He came early in contact with the film world as the son of actor Allan Edwall and author Britt Edwall. He began his career as a fashion photographer in New York and was the first among other assistant for Annie Leibovitz and Patrick Demarchelier. There, he was given the opportunity to immerse himselves in his own, personal expression. Edwall returned to Sweden in 1986 and throughout the following decade, he made lots of commercials and music videos.

In recent years Edwall become particularly known for his photographic book about Circus Cirkör, where he collected a series of expressive and colorful images of tightrope walkers, acrobats, fire-eaters and jugglers under 17 years in the work Circus (2013). Another important genre that he worked on the portrait photography. Given his background, actors and artists have long dominated. Edwall works thoroughly and prepare sketches in which he gathers ideas for his staged photographs. Not infrequently he has allowed the models to act as if it were on a theater stage. This includes the portrait of H.K.H. Prince Carl Philip.

The photographic portraits is a gift of the Friends of Nationalmuseum. Nationalmuseum has no own funds to purchase art and crafts for collections, instead they are enriched by donations and private foundations and funds.

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