Sven-Harrys konstmuseum is recreating a legendary and groundbreaking exhibition

By on May 26, 2019
Roddexercis/Rodd, 1917, olja

Sven-Harrys konstmuseum is recreating a legendary and groundbreaking exhibition from 1918. On May 30, the museum presents Sailor Compositions: The Dramatics of Color and the Dynamics of the City, with works by Gösta Adrian-Nilsson (1884–1965).

Sven-Harrys konstmuseum new exhibition, entitled Sailor Compositions: The Dramatics of Color and the Dynamics of the City, is based on the ground-breaking exhibition Sailor Compositions at Gummeson Gallery in Stockholm in 1918. It was there that Stockholm got its first real look at Gösta Adrian-Nilsson’s (GAN) eccentric, colorful, intense, modernist paintings of sailor scenes.

“This exhibition deftly embodies what Sven-Harrys konstmuseum wants to achieve and the kind of experience, inspiration, and deeper understanding we want to give our visitors,” says Dragana Kusoffsky Maksimovic, the museum’s CEO. “We want to give them a glimpse of the time when GAN was going through one of his most creative—and, by many, most criticized—periods. Today we see the Sailor Compositions show of 1918 as one of GAN’s most significant exhibitions, but his breakthrough and recognition didn’t come until long after his death. It has been incredibly exciting to try to recreate the exhibition, and each new work we’ve been able to track down has brought a great deal of joy to the museum.”

GAN came to be a pioneer of Swedish modernism and created his own style based on the prevailing currents of early twentieth-century art: Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism. Visitors will get to see oil paintings from the sensational and equally scandalous Sailor Compositions show of 1918, which will form the core of the new exhibition. The museum has succeeded in bringing together ten of the seventeen works that could be tracked down from the Gummeson show. Some of the pieces in the exhibition are on view for the very first time, including GAN’s model ship, and others haven’t been shown publicly for several decades.

The exhibition’s second part is subtitled The Dramatics of Color and the Dynamics of the City, a phrase taken from GAN’s own preface to the catalog for the 1918 Sailor Compositions show. This part presents GAN’s powerful urban scenes and the environments where he felt most at home. The museum is showing about fifteen paintings of big city motifs, especially views of Stockholm in which GAN captures the energy that pervaded the radically changing urban scene during the rise of modernism. GAN’s burgeoning talent developed explosively during this period with inspiration from the modernity and dynamism of his adoptive hometown.

“Of course it’s incredibly fun to get to recreate something of the dynamic forcefield that was generated by GAN’s extraordinary work of 1916–19, when he had moved from Lund and begun developing his ground-breaking art in Stockholm,” says the exhibition’s curator, Pedro Westerdahl. “The fact that the exhibition is being presented here at Sven-Harrys konstmuseum makes me especially happy, because visitors are going to see GAN’s art in the remarkable gallery created by the master builder Sven-Harry Karlsson, who also came to occupy a significant place in Stockholm’s art scene after moving here from GAN’s old hometown of Lund, where they both grew up.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, a series of interesting tours and conversations with artists, authors, and art critics is being arranged to explore Gösta Adrian-Nilsson’s life and work. Information on the program of events will become available later.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a luxuriously produced exhibition catalog about GAN’s life and work that will include images of all the works in the show.

Culture | Sven-Harrys konstmuseum is recreating a legendary and groundbreaking exhibition
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