The Norwegian art collector Erling Neby’s art collection is a monument for a timeless elegant art and a collector who has followed his own path. His collection offers a personal presentation of mainly Scandinavian art, as seen through his own eyes. You can now enjoy several of the Norwegian art collector’s gems in the book “The Erling Neby Collection”.
A practice that was developed before and after World War II, and devised to avoid ambiguity in the word ‘abstract,’ concrete art is characterized by combinations of simple geometric elements to create autonomous visual realities.
Erling Neby is owner of one of the most important and precious private collections of this art form in Europe, and even worldwide. Over 30 years’ collecting can now be enjoyed between two covers in a book entitled just “The Erling Neby Collection”.
Concrete and Geometric art
Some art collectors concentrate on the works of some small group of artists. Others buy only Norwegian artists, or only paintings or works on paper. Others choose to follow an artistic school or tradition. Erling Neby belongs to the last group.
The Erling Neby Collection offers a personal presentation of Concrete and Geometric Art, as seen through the eyes of a Scandinavian collector. The collection focuses mainly on Scandinavian, geometric Constructivist Art, whose bright colors set new standards that are second to none regarding purity and succinctness.
An unequalled collection
The Nordic artists in Neby’s collection became interested in creating artworks that were both social and universal, using pure form and color based on mathematical principles. Neby has been building up his collection in Oslo, a collection which is today unequalled in the Nordic countries and is world-renowned. Among the artists are: Josef Albers, Olle Baertling, Jean Dewasne, Emilio Gilioli, Jan Groth, Arne Malmedal, Aurelie Nemours, Lars G. Nordström, Paul Osipow, Jesus Rafael Soto, Victor Vasarely, and Thornton Willis.
A Norwegian art collector
As with the artists, the Galerie Denise René was also the starting point for The Erling Neby Collection. His first painting was purchased there – a painting by Jean Dewasne – in the early 70s, and soon afterwards, paintings by Victor Vasarely. Erling Neby has purchased paintings, graphics, reliefs and sculptures. He has traded art from Finland and the United States, from Venezuela and Romania. In common, however, everything he has purchased has had a non-figurative expression with an emphasis on geometry and colors. The art has hardly any reference to external reality.
Related: 50 Years of Living Art in Oslo
About the Authors
Since 2004, John Peter Nilsson is curator at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. He was editor-in-chief between 1999 – 2002 for Nu: The Nordic Art Review, and between 1996 – 1999 for Siksi, The Nordic Art Review. In addition to being a freelance art critic for the Swedish daily Aftonbladet between 1986 – 2004, Mr. Nilsson also organized several exhibitions as an independent curator, among others he was curator for The Nordic Pavilion at The Venice Biennale 1999.
At Moderna Museet he is in charge of the programs and he has also been curating, among others, the Swedish quadrennial “The Moderna Exhibition 2006” (2006); “Olle Baertling – A Modern Classic” (2007); “Dalí Dalí featuring Francesco Vezzoli” (2009).
Karin Hellandsjø, has her Master in art history from the University of Oslo. She worked as curator at the Henie Onstad Art Centre for almost two decades, during the 1970’s and 80’s, before joining the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo as their chief curator from 1988 till 2005. In March 2005 she came back to the Henie Onstad Art Centre as director. Hellandsjø has since the start of her career been involved in national and international museum work and collaboration, and has curated many major national and international exhibitions throughout the years. She is also a notable scholar on modern art, a lecturer and an active writer.
A Norwegian Art Collector, written by Tor Kjolberg