Ausstellungstipp: Carl Larsson

[Fotos: Kunstmuseum, Turku]

Carl Larsson - Dreams of Harmony
im Kunstmuseum, Turku (Finnland)
bis 8. Januar 2012

The endearing world of the Swedish master Carl Larsson (1853–1919) comes alive in an exhibition in the Turku Art Museum from 16 September 2011 to 8 January 2012. Carl Larsson – Dreams of Harmony depicts the influence of the artist’s family and surroundings on his work. The exhibition especially focuses on early paintings made in the village of Grèz-sur-Loing in France and on works created in the artist’s home in Sundborn, in the Dalarna region of Sweden. The artist captured the character of both locations and their everyday life in romanticised rural portrayals whose douceur de vivre, sweetness of life, can leave no viewer cold.

It was a turning point for Carl Larsson when he met his future wife, the artist Karin Bergöö (1859–1928), in Grèz-sur-Loing near Paris. Also Larsson’s art found a new direction in Grèz; here he adopted the French plein air painting and painted the first of many intimate pictures of his family. His masterful use of watercolour and sophisticated eye for colour earned Larsson the recognition for which he had yearned for a long time. After his return to Sweden, Larsson’s style began gradually to develop towards the linear fashion which is today considered his trademark – a manner that reflected the influences of Japanese art as well as Art Nouveau. Karin, their children and home were for Larsson a constant source of inspiration, and his works became quintessential images of idealised Swedish family life and as well as picturesque Bohemian lifestyle. Larsson and his idiosyncratic, decorative style are best known from watercolours depicting homely motifs, where time stands still in the balmy and serene mood of childhood Sundays.

The vignettes painted by Carl Larsson of his family and home life became known throughout the world in picture books. Publications such as De mina (1895, My Loved Ones), Ett hem (1899, A Home) and Spadarfvet (1906, A Farm) brought fame to the artist, his family and their home Lilla Hyttnäs. Carl and Karin Larsson were forerunners of the modern ideal of interior decoration. Their home was set apart from the typical bourgeois houses of the time with their heavy furniture and dark colours. The Larssons felt that a home should be a reflection of its occupants. They modified furniture to their liking, mixing different styles and breaking the boundaries between outdoor and indoor spaces. One important element of the interiors were modern textiles designed by Karin.Larsson himself said that his guiding stars were lightness and happiness, even though his personality did not always reflect these values. Behind the mask of fame that grew into mythic proportions lived a discordant and sometimes melancholy artist, who met with difficulties and criticism, especially as regards his public works. The versatile Carl Larsson also illustrated numerous publications, of which the exhibition includes his superb original illustrations for Victor Rydberg’s Singoalla (1894). [Text: Museum]