Northern Landscape: A visit to the Moderna Museet in Stockholm

Recently we went for a visit to the Moderna Museet, the modern art gallery in Stockholm. I primarily wanted to go to see Matisse’s landscape painting ‘Paysage marocain’ (Acanthes), 1912. One of his Morocco paintings. It’s a gorgeous painting because of the colour and simplicity (the picture doesn’t do it justice).

Matisse's Morrocan LandscapeMatisse ‘Paysage marocain’ (Acanthes), 1912

But the Emil Nolde (1867 -1956) flower painting in the same room moved me more. Incredibly intense colour. Van Goghish application of the paint. Very thick. I’d seen it in books and didn’t think much (and the photo doesn’t do it justice either)  but it is actually really sensitive in real life and really captures the spirit of the flowers. It was the only painting that moved me on a heart level in the whole gallery.

It was also stolen by the Nazis. Read the story here.

Orange and red flower painting by Emil Nolde Emil Nolde ‘Flowers’

Wandering around you have various thoughts.

There’s hardly any art in the whole gallery.

It’d be a good place to make a film about alienation and the soulessness of modern architecture.

A lot of the art post 1910 is dark and depressing. There isn’t an ounce of anything of spiritual value in it. It’s understandable in the context of the world wars but so what? As social documents yeh but artistic no. Much intellectual mumbo jumbo has been written to justify it. I can really understand why people don’t like it.

The way the 20th history of art is written is ludicrous. It’s all about the avant-garde and leaves out many brilliant artists. As if all art is simply progressing towards some new formal nirvana which will explain everything about the world.  This history keeps being taught in secondary schools and university and art schools as if it is the only one worth knowing about. And everything else is irrelevant. Not.

Here’s a new artist I discovered at the Museum in a book. Ellen Thesleff (1869-1954). She’s Finnish. Never heard of her.  I just thought they were beautiful vibrant spiritual landscapes.  She deserves a much wider audience. Again she’s influenced by Van Gogh. Yes he was the innovator but that’s not the only story in art. I couldn’t find many of her images on the web. Some of her paintings I saw in the book had really interesting colour combinations.  Not so obvious in these paintings but they do have a particular light that is more Northern european which is interesting to me.

Thesleff,-Ellen_Juhannus Finnish Landscape painting in blue and yellowEllen Thesleff   ‘Landscape’  c?

Ellen Thesleff   ‘Landscape’  1910

Take a look at this interesting contemporary English artist:

http://www.leewoods.com/index.html

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