Graphic Universe Inspired by Northern Norway

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The Norwegian artist Anna-Eva Bergman (1909-1987) lived and worked primarily abroad, but it was a trip to Northern Norway in 1950 that would come to have vital importance for her development as a visual artist. Now her works are exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo until summer of 2016.

Anna-Eva Bergman’s art is inspired by nature. The exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo has been set up according to her own categorization in her note “Les Themes”.  Recognized during her lifetime, and nevertheless held in a marginal position, her work raises renewed interest, artistic as well as critical.

Black Mountain 1957
Black Mountain 1957

Anna-Eva Bergman is among the significant Norwegian artists of the past century, and her position has been consolidated through exhibitions and acquisitions sponsored by the leading public institutions. Nevertheless, in many ways she has remained an outsider in the Norwegian art milieu.

Anna Eva Bergman
Anna Eva Bergman

Bergman used metal foils to create an illusion of light in her prints and paintings. By glazing the surfaces at various levels and using a palette knife to scrape the surface, she produced vivid effects of depth and relief. She also polished the foils in order to make the pictures flicker with a «magic» light.

Anna Eva Bergman and Hans Hartung (Menorca 1936)
Anna Eva Bergman and Hans Hartung (Menorca 1936)

Following artistic studies in Oslo and in Vienna, Anna-Eva Bergman came to Paris in 1929 where she followed for some time André Lhote’s courses. She met Hans Hartung (1904-1989) whom she married only a few months after their meeting. Through her German husband, she was introduced to a sophisticated international art milieu, and was gradually influenced by movements such as Surrealism, automatism and spontaneous painting.

El mon
El mon

She separated a first time from Hans Hartung in 1937, and then returned to live in Norway.
But their love remained, and they reunited in 1952 in Paris and remarried in 1957.

1950
1950

Impressions from two journeys to Northern Norway in the summers of 1950 and 1964 had a lasting influence on her prints and paintings. From the deck of the Hurtigruten coastal steamer, she observed the rugged Northern Norwegian nature and its deep fjords, steep mountains, vast ocean waters, midnight sun, and endless horizon. She became particularly fascinated by the Arctic light.

The Galerie de France consecrated a first one-woman show to her work in 1958.

Drawings
Drawings

From the end of the 60s Anna-Eva Bergman began to work in larger formats and an additional simplification of the idiom occurs; one can interject that towards the end of her career she reverts to a certain degree to an elegant and ingratiating style, which causes the paintings to tend to lean toward design.

On several occasions during the 1960s, Bergman met the American artist Mark Rothko in both Paris and New York. She exhibited in Europe and participated in major group exhibitions worldwide.

From Foundation Hans Hartung and Anna Eva Bergan in Antibes
From Foundation Hans Hartung and Anna Eva Bergan in Antibes

In 1966 she was represented at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo and in 1967 at the Galleria Civica in Turin. In 1969 she represented Norway in the Sao Paulo Biennale. A retrospective in 1977-1978 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris crowned her career however modest with regard to the uniqueness and the importance of the work.

Bergman and Hartung purchased a large estate in Antibes, where they built a functionalist villa and two studios that were completed in 1973. The creation of the Foundation Hans Hartung-Anna Eva Bergman in 1994 furnished exceptional material for research, rich with thousands of works and archives enabling the study of the impact and originality of her work.

Anna Eva Bergman and Hans Harting with Sapone (right) mid 60s
Anna Eva Bergman and Hans Harting with Sapone (right) mid 60s

In addition to a number of monographic exhibitions organized in Norway, Germany, Sweden or in France (Musée Picasso in Antibes in 1995, Musée des Jacobins in Toulouse in 2000, etc.), exhibition curators such as Michael Tarentino (Event Horizon, Irish Museum of Modern Art, 1996) confronted her work to that of contemporary artists, pointing out its universal and timeless strength, and thus opening new perspectives through which one can discover her work today.

The Fondation Hartung Bergman has donated 154 graphic works by Anna-Eva Bergman to the National Museum.

Her first major solo exhibition in Norway took place at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter outside of Oslo in 1979.

Feature image (on top): Vague Baroque (1073)

The exhibition has proved so popular that it has been extended until summer of 2016.

Graphic Universe Inspired by Northern Norway, compiled by Tor Kjolberg