Whether you’re looking for new art to add to your personal collection, or just want to visit some fascinating art exhibitions this year, January is the perfect time to get reacquainted with the art world — and renew your appreciation for the Scandinavian artists of our generation.
Drawing tips from a trusted insider in the art world, Helen Schorsch, (and adding a few of our personal favorites in the mix), we’ve rounded up six established and emerging Scandinavian artists on our radar for 2019.
First on Schorsch’s radar, is Icelandic-Danish artist, Olafur Eliasson, a multidisciplinary artist who is primarily known for his large-scale glass and light sculptures — in addition to his photographs. Eliasson has continued to expand his vision and practice over the years. His recent exhibition at the Tate Modern museum in London with fellow artist, Minik Rosing titled “Ice Watch,” provoked valuable awareness regarding climate change. His stunning photographs of Icelandic landscapes, arranged in symmetrically pleasing geometric grids, also nod to the theme.
According to Schorsch, who works with The Americas Foundation of the Serpentine Galleries, what’s special about Eliasson is that his works are “in tune with design and public interaction. The “Your Rainbow Panorama” on permanent display at the AROS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark, the Cirkelbroen (The Circle Bridge) in Copenhagen, and the wall design at the Harpa opera house in Reykjavik, are all such examples.
Also worth noting, according to Schorsch, is his Little Sun project, in which he partners with Bloomberg Philanthropies to bring a light source to communities in need, such as Puerto Rico, after the recent devastation of Hurricane Maria.
Copenhagen-born (and Berlin-based) Scandinavian artist, Jeppe Hein has influenced dozens of cities around the world with his sculptures and sensory-focused exhibitions. In 2015, his sculptures were interactive, park bench-inspired structures in a brilliant red color — created equally for viewing and play — on display in Brooklyn Bridge Park. In 2018, his work made the art world and viewer’s senses alike take notice with his exhibit, “In Is The Only Way Out.” For the exhibit, he installed a series of sensory-driven objects — including visual and audible stimulations — under Søndermarken Park in Denmark.
Throughout his career as a visionary artist, he has captured people’s attention by getting them to notice themselves in what is perhaps a different, and unexpected light. Patrons can’t help but reflect on their own images and sensations, which has enabled Hein to make a mark in the art world that is both uncommon and welcome.
Since 1985, artist pair, Michael Elmgreen of Copenhagen and Ingar Dragset of Norway have worked together on projects ranging from large- to small-scale public sculptures. One such example is the summer 2016 display of “Van Gogh’s Ear” — the 30-foot high verticle swimming pool that took over the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center in New York City. In partnership with the Public Art Fund, this exhibit was a continuation of the duo’s habit of magnifying a particular object to draw attention to a social issue — in a way that provokes, almost equally, humor and thought.
Drawing attention to particular forms is a practice for them with smaller-scale exhibits, as well, such as their recent display at Perrotin or their installation, “This Is How We Bite Our Tongue” at the Whitechapel Gallery in London — on display until January 13th, so get a visit in quick. By no means invisible, the duo has received numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology in 2015, and the esteemed Hugo Boss prize for art in 2000. With a host of renowned exhibitions in their rearview, and a plethora of cultural and social themes yet to be addressed from their uniquely humorous and provocative perspective, the duo’s future appears nothing but bright.
One of our personal favorites is Sweden-based artist, Ann Sundqvist. Equal measure artist and sculptor, Sundqvist, is trained in sculpture from Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts, and Design in Stockholm. Sundqvist draws on her nearly 30 years of experience as a working artist — where her primary form of expression is through sculpture, graphic design, and cartoons — to create sculptures that are stunningly beautiful and supremely well crafted.
Ann Sundqvist has done it all — from illustrating children’s books and working on both public and privately-sponsored projects, to completing several solo exhibitions. The artist has garnered the respect and attention of both the public and private sectors alike. As for her inspiration, she draws on “nature’s microforms, climate, and communication between people” to create work that speaks to people on multiple levels — both spiritual and visual.
Originally born in Denmark, Spansberg has reached a level of success as an artist that many will not see — especially not before their 30th birthday. However, after taking one look at her Instagram profile, or visiting one of her exhibitions in person, it won’t be long before you understand just how special, and deserving, her artwork is of the attention. Now based in Osterbro in Northern Copenhagen, Sundqvist draws on her flair for line drawings and her impeccable aesthetic to create timeless, entirely handmade and unique works.
Unlike many new artists today, however, one of our favorite things about Spansberg is her commitment to creating authentic, handmade pieces, and therefore, her commitment to never doing print-versions of her works. While there are many people out there trying to copy her originals, her commitment to staying true to quality and uniqueness is a true sign of her ability. It’s this kind of quality-assurance that helps create a legacy in the art world.
Finnish visual artist, Outi Pieski, has made significant strides in the discipline of tapestry art since graduating with an M.F.A. from the Academy of Fine Arts, in Helsinki, Finland in 2000. Her most recent solo exhibition titled, “Cuolmmadit” is on display through June 2019 at EMMA (Espoo Museum of Modern Art), in Espoo, Finland.
Upon entering the exhibit, the tie to her roots is evident, almost literally, in the name of the exhibit, which in the Sami language means, “to tie many knots.” The exhibit connects the viewer with Sami heritage through the hand-woven threads of vibrant multicolored fine threads — which are hanging in beautiful, technical- yet fluid-patterns, throughout the installation. If you’re anywhere near Pieski’s work this year, it’s definitely worth the trip.
Talking of art – Take a look at our STUNNING new editorial by Ida Halling starring one sassy feline >>>
Tags: Ann Ahlbom Sundqvist, artist, Christiane Spansberg, Elmgreen & Dragset, Jeppe Hein, Olafur Eliasson, Outi Pieski, scandinavian art, scandinavian artist
Laura Dowdy is a freelance writer and editor based in New York. She's the author of The Minimalist's Skin Care Handbook and a forthcoming novel. She also considers herself a professional Googler.
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