Artists’ Life in Norway – Award Winning Book


A respected insider of the contemporary Norwegian art scene, Anne Marit Muri has spent much of her professional life interviewing many of the greatest Norwegian artists of the 20th century. Her knowledge and frequent studio visits with artists like Sverre Bjærtnes, Håkon Bleken, Ida Lorentzen, Kenneth Blom and Frank Brunner among many others, have produced an incredible archive of interviews, mainly in form of off-the cuff conversations. It resulted in “Artists’ Life in Norway” the award-winning book, Kunstnerliv, in 2018.

Art books, or artist’s books, are one of my favorite genre in publishing. Every year they come in such a wide range of styles and forms and are often considered more works of art that utilize the form of a book, rather than simply books. One of these is Kunstnerliv by Anne Marit Muri. There seem to be no limits or rules to the art form and this book manage to entertain, challenge AND educate us while creating new, invigorating experience visually or haptically.

Kunstnerliv has been published in limited edition and challenges the conventional book format and has become a sculptural literary masterpiece.

Artists’ Life in Norway - Award Winning Book
Kunstnerliv has been published in limited edition and challenges the conventional book format and has become a sculptural literary masterpiece. Printed by Rolf Ottessen trykkeri as. Photo: Grafill

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Muri has selected 19 of the most noteworthy and fascinating of her conversations with the artists, and together with photographer Bjørn Wad, she presents her subjects with a mix of passion, insight, humor and dignity.

Artists’ Life in Norway - Award Winning Book
Photographer Bjørn Wad (left) Author Anne Marit Muri (right).

The book is consistently entertaining and informative, as the artists open up in unexpected ways about their work and their lives. Bjørn Wads photographs in combination with an esthetic layout and living content made Kunstnerliv Gold-winner for the year’s most beautiful photo book/art book in 2019 at Grafill’s “The year’s most beautiful books” award.

Award-winning graphic designer Rune Døli has been responsible for the layout.

The book focuses both on the artistry and the life course of the individual artist in order to get closer to the person behind the art. Never before has such an extensive documentary book been published with life stories and photo portraits of contemporary living Norwegian visual artists. Muri also wanted all the artists to choose a quote that they should write down in their own handwriting. This has contributed to readers gaining an even deeper understanding of the creators.

Artists’ Life in Norway - Award Winning Book
Kunstnerliv manages to entertain, challenge and educate us while creating new, invigorating experience visually or haptically.

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Black and white photographs make the book enduring.

The result is a surprising and different art book with a poetic approach both in text and how the artists are captured in black/white portraits. Readers learn to know both the artist and the person behind the art in this 400-page masterpiece.

Anne Marit Muri tells me that she started her work on this book as a freelance project in 2014, and she has been responsible for the idea and text.

“Intendedly I chose to interview 19 artists, women and men, famous and less known. Perhaps not politically correct, but these are artists that I admire on many different levels, and of whom I could therefore make genuine portraits.”

Muri explains that the meetings with the artists have not been traditional questions and answers interviews. It has been informal, relaxed, and friendly behavior, rather than very correct meetings between an interviewer and her interviewees.

Artists’ Life in Norway - Award Winning Book
The book on display, autumn 2018.

From the book’s introduction, written by art historian Gunnar Danbolt:

“The first encounter with a work of art can be fascinating. For example, there may be something about a painting’s movements, strokes, color, etc. that keep you hooked. But at the same time, you can also be confused, because what does the artwork really mean? And why does it concern me? It is rarely a question you ask yourself when you are outside the realm of art. The TV entertainment always slips in easily without leaving any particular touches.

Art in all its forms, on the other hand, requires something from us – courage, patience, curiosity. It is this work that might let us experience art as something that not only remains in consciousness, but also helps to expand it. Because it is the feeling and thought processes that art initiates in us that are decisive, not whether they agree with what the artist may have thought or felt. Nevertheless, the meeting with the artists can give us the first impulses.”

Artists’ Life in Norway - Award Winning Book
Inside the book

There are only few books left in stock. You can order here.

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Raving reviews

“Kunstnerliv has become a book that is contagious with its enthusiasm both for art and those who create it.

Anne Marit Muri is obviously a skilled interviewer, who gets others to open up, because between the twists and turns there is a deep familiarity that gives nerve to the most personal stories.”

Oda Bhar, Morgenbladet

“The narrative is reflective and good, with a personal twist that makes you get close to the artists. The portraits stand out as cinematic and strong. The photographer has the ability to bring out the personality of each and every one of the artists. The layout is tight, and there is air and peace. Overall, Kunstnerliv is a very beautiful book that is nice to have on the living room table. The book is rich in content and gives readers a solid insight into Norwegian artistic life.”

– Gullaug Press, Feelgood Magazine

Artists’ Life in Norway - Award Winning Book
Anne Marit Muri receiving the award

The artists
Sverre Bjertnæs, Håkon Bleken, Kenneth Blom, Frank Brunner, Lars Elling, Jan Groth, Liv Heier, Håvard Homstvedt, Svein Johansen, Anki King, Ida Lorentzen, Thorvald Lund-Hansen, Hilde Mæhlum, Martine Poppe, Vebjørn Sand, Tore Bjørn Skjølsvik, Ingeborg Stana, Marie Storaas and Elisabeth Werp.

Anne Marit Muri (born 1962) has a Masters degree in social science from the University of Bergen in addition to art history from the University of Oslo. She has been an editor for various magazines for more than 20 years, including the magazine KUNST.

Artists’ Life in Norway – Award Winning Book, written by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): Gold Award, Year’s most beautiful art book 2018, Grafill1. pris, gull – for årets vakreste kunstbok 2019, fra Grafill.

All images © Anne Marit Muri/Grafill

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.


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