Exhibition: ‘Nordic Art: The Modern Breakthrough 1880-1920’

  • Date: -

Exhibition of Northern European painting of the 19th and 20th centuries

From 30 May to 6 October 2013, the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation in Munich will host Nordic Art: The Modern Breakthrough 1880-1920.

This exhibition (compiled by David Jackson, Professor of Russian and Scandinavian Art History at the University of Leeds) is a tribute to the peoples and cultures of the Nordic countries, and provides an overview of late 19th and early 20th century Nordic painting. The splendid landscapes, portraits and scenes from everyday rural life display both the similarities and the differences between the Nordic countries. The exhibition focuses on the time when movements such as realism, naturalism, and more divergent styles such as symbolism and upcoming modernism, existed side by side.

Masterpieces by Edvard Munch, Anders Zorn, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, August Strindberg, Helene Schjerfbeck and Vilhelm Hammershøi are juxtaposed in a fascinating dialogue with works by almost 60 outstanding painters who are virtually unknown outside of their homelands. With a diverse range of themes, the exhibition sets out to demonstrate how these artists search for and discover connections and divisions among the emerging Nordic nations that rise above their national borders.

The German title of the exhibition ‘Aus Dämmerung und Licht’ (‘Of Dawn and Light’) expresses the unique moods captured by the Nordic painters in their pictures. In this, their perception of landscape obviously plays a central role. Yet, even everyday country or city life, with its underlying social issues, is imbued with this atmospheric symbolism. The title also epitomises the cultural and social upheaval taking place in the Nordic countries at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The exhibition challenges the traditional perception of aesthetics and morality and takes a critical look at the living conditions in these nations that are in a state of flux. Even the geographical borders of the Nordic countries change during this era as they gain their independence; Norway in 1905, Finland in 1917 and Iceland in 1918. The artists contribute actively to their home countries’ journey towards self-discovery and social change.

The exhibition was conceived as part of a research project by Prof. David Jackson, specialist for Russian and Scandinavian Art at the University of Leeds, and is a collaboration between the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation (Munich) with the Groninger Museum (Netherlands). The research project was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Further information about the exhibition can be found at: