Carl Larsson – Dreams of Harmony in Turku Art Museum 16 September 2011 – 8 January 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 forVictor Rydberg’s Singoalla (1894).
Part of the official Turku European Capital of Culture 2011 programme, the exhibition is one of the highlights of the jubilee year. It is the result of several years of preparation in cooperation with the Ateneum Art Museum, where works by Carl Larsson will be exhibited from 10 February to 29 April 2012. The works in the exhibition come primarily from public and private collections in Sweden. An extensive catalogue presenting Carl Larsson’s art and life will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. The Ateneum and the Turku art museums also cooperated a century ago on the first major presentation of Carl Larsson’s work in Finland, which took place in Helsinki and Turku in 1913. Larsson’s dream of harmony continues to touch people’s hearts, and new generations interpret his work in novel ways. The exhibition in the Turku Art Museum provides a unique opportunity to enjoy artistic beauty and virtuosity, and offers an intimate portrait of an artist whose goal was to paint himself into the hearts of his audiences.
The exhibition in Turku Art Museum is curated by Director Kari Immonen, Senior Curator Christian Hoffmann and Exhibition Officer Helena Kinnunen.
Carl Larsson – Dreams of Harmony is part of the Turku European Capital of Culture 2011 Programme. The exhibition is produced in cooperation with the Ateneum Art Museum, and in addition to the Turku 2011 Foundation it is sponsored by IKEA and the City of Turku.
Turku Art Museum
Aurakatu 26, 20100 Turku, Finland
tel. + 358 (0)2 2627 100, info(at)turuntaidemuseo.fi
Jenny Nybom, Curator
tel. +358 (0)2 262 7094 or +358 (0)50 400 3248