I hadn’t known there was a Scandinavian manifestation of Modernism at the turn of the last century. I'd known about Munch, of course, but the idiosyncrasies and extremes of his vision didn’t seem to leave much room for a “school,” a broader vision and approach to art that could be stamped with a region’s character (geographic or cultural).
The paintings on this page are by one Otto Hesselbom, a Swedish landscape artist working in the late 19th and first decade of the 20th century.
But in thinking about why some Scandinavian art of this era appealed so much to me, I began to tease out certain threads running through much of it. Those golden threads that, when spotted, I follow so gratefully.
The extreme landscapes of the North seem to make a Romantic’s reverence for nature unavoidable for these artists. Features of the landscape overhang much of this art – Mountains, ice, the day-long sunlight (or lack of it), the brief riot of Spring color.
But many of these artists were cosmopolitan, too, grappling with the same epochal changes as were their peers across Europe. So their landscapes are infused with that Modernist sense of form and color, the media of art.