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"Karl Isakson: Paintings and Drawings"
2004-05-15 until 2004-08-29
Modern Museum
Stockholm, , SE

The Moderna Museet collection has some 40 paintings representing his entire career as a painter, along with numerous sketch books and drawings. Moderna Museet has borrowed works from private collectors and other museums to compile this exhibition of some 100 works by Isakson. The motifs include portraits, landscapes, nudes, still-lifes and religious images. The exhibition will also comprise drawings. Isaksons art is solitary, lucid, and necessary: it neither demands that we imbue it with meaning, nor does it refuse to imbue it with its own meaning, it simply takes and it gives, and is refreshing while it is deep and carried forth by passion.

This beautiful and poignant description of Karl Isakson (1878-1922) was written by the art critic and poet Gunnar Ekel÷f. The Moderna Museet summer exhibition will be the first of Karl Isakson in forty years, and it will be an exhibition of paintings by a unique Swedish painter - but also a journey to the roots of modernism, to delicate landscapes, austere still-lifes and to the psyche of an extremely radical artist.

Karl Isakson worked uncompromisingly and intensely with the formal and elementary problems of the image, often repeating the same motif over and over again. A cubist imagery influenced him, and the spirit of CÚzanne is present especially in his dream-like landscape paintings and still-lifes. A strong feeling of stillness and illuminated concentration infuses his work. Several of the paintings he himself put aside are now the ones that have earned him his good name. In the course of his life, he went from clear, brilliant colours to more muted tones.

In Denmark, which came to be Karl Isaksons second home, his influence on his contemporary Danish artists is often highlighted. In Sweden his name is often mentioned in connection with the Gothenburg colourists, who were inspired by his treatment of colour.

In his native Sweden Karl Isakson was perhaps most familiar to other artists. This is probably because he lived most of his short life in Denmark and was a shy recluse. The anecdotes about his timidity have taken on almost mythological proportions. One of the favourite stories relates how he fled head over heels from anyone he thought might be out to buy one of his paintings. Whether this is true or not is hard to tell, but it does give some idea of the artist, not least in view of the fact that many of his works are unsigned, undated and owned mainly by private individuals in Sweden and Denmark.

A generously illustrated book about the artist will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.

Curator: Annika Gunnarsson


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