Art of Norway  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Norwegian art came into its own in the 19th century, especially with the early landscape painters. Until that time, the art scene in Norway had been dominated by imports from Germany and Holland and by the influence of Danish rule. Initially with landscape painting, later with impressionism and realism, Norwegian art has prospered until today. Norway's most famous artist is Edvard Munch, (1863-1944), a symbolist/expressionist painter who became worldfamous for The Scream which is said to represent the anxiety of modern man.

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The beginnings

Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857) is often said to be the "father of Norwegian landscape painting". After a period in Copenhagen, he joined the Dresden school to which he made an important contribution. He eventually returned to paint the landscapes of western Norway, defining Norwegian painting for the first time.

Another important early contributor was Johannes Flintoe (1787-1870), a Danish-Norwegian painter, known for his Norwegian landscapes and paintings of folk costumes. He taught at the School of Drawing (Tegneskolen) in Christiania from 1819 to 1851 where his students included budding romanticists such as Hans Gude and Johan F. Eckersberg.

Adolph Tidemand (1814-1876) studied in Copenhagen, in Italy and finally in Düsseldorf where he settled. He often returned to Norway where he painted the old Norwegian farm culture. His best known painting is “Haugianerne” (the Haugians) painted in 1852.

Norway’s new-found independence from Denmark encouraged painters to develop their Norwegian identity, especially with landscape painting by artists such as Kitty Kielland, 1843-1914, an early female painter who studied under Gude and Harriet Backer, 1845-1932, another pioneer among female artists, influenced by impressionism.

Impressionists and neo-romanticists

Frits Thaulow, 1847-1906, an impressionist, was initially a student of Hans Gude. He was later influenced by the art scene in Paris where he developed impressionist talents. Returning to Norway in 1880, he became one of the leading figures on the Norwegian art scene, together with Christian Krohg and Erik Werenskiold.

Christian Krohg, 1852-1925, a realist painter, was also influenced by the Paris scene. He is remembered for his paintings of prostitutes which caused something of a scandal.

Thorolf Holmboe (1866-1935) studied under Hans Gude in Berlin between 1886 and 1887 and Fernand Cormon in Paris between 1889 and 1891. He was inspired by many different styles at different points in his career, including Naturalism, Neo-romanticism, Realism and Impressionism.

Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928) grew up in Jølster in the west of Norway. After studying art in Oslo and spending some time in Paris and in Germany, he returned to Jølster where he specialised in painting neo-romantic landscapes with clear, strong colors. He is remembered as one of the greatest Norwegian artists from the early 20th century.

Edvard Munch

Perhaps Norway's most famous artist is Edvard Munch, (1863-1944), a symbolist/expressionist painter who became worldfamous for The Scream which is said to represent the anxiety of modern man. Painted in 1893, The Scream is Munch's most famous work and one of the most recognizable paintings in all art. It has been widely interpreted as representing the universal anxiety of modern man. With this painting, Munch met his stated goal of “the study of the soul, that is to say the study of my own self”.

Other painters of note

Lars Hertervig (1830-1902) from Tysvær in south-western Norway painted semi-fantastical works inspired by the coastal landscape in Ryfylke.

P.S. Krøyer (1851-1909), originally from Stavanger is one of the best known and most colorful of the Skagen Painters, a community of Danish and Nordic artists who lived, gathered or worked in Skagen, Denmark. Krøyer's best known and most well loved work is entitled "Summer Evening on Skagen's Southern Beach with Anna Ancher and Marie Krøyer"

Harald Sohlberg, (1869-1935), a neo-romanticist, is remembered for his paintings of Røros.

Odd Nerdrum, (b. 1944), a figurative painter who maintains his work is not art but kitch.

Contemporary artists

Rolf Groven (born 1943) is best known for his satirical art painted in figurative style. Groven's paintings are frequently printed works of art in textbooks used in Norwegian schools, as well as history books. His paintings express his views on topids such as environmentalism, Norway's EU membership and nuclear disarmament.

Per Inge Bjørlo (born 1952) is a Norwegian artist and sculptor specialising in industrial art where he has used scrap machine parts, especially rubber and glass, for his numerous paintings and "installations".

Marianne Aulie (born 1971 in Lørenskog) is one of the best-selling contemporary artists. One of her techniques is to bathe her works in Champagne in order to get a particular texture from having the alcohol react with the acryl paint. She often combines painting with photography.



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