The Lyric Vision – Abstract-Expressi­onism in Icelandic Art, 1957-1970

The Lyric Vision – Abstract-Expressionism in Icelandic Art, 1957-1970

The Lyric Vision – Abstract-Expressionism in Icelandic Art, 1957-1970



As the first retrospective exhibition of Icelandic abstract expressionism, this exhibition marks a watershed in the history of exhibitions of Icelandic artists in this country. In the years following World War II art experts turned their attention and their critiques first and foremost to geometric abstract art, with its focus on bright colours and sharply defined formalism. In contrast to this, the radical changes in the late 1950s, and the rise of a more interpretive abstract expressionism, which played a large part in Icelandic painting from the time of Kristján Davíðsson‘s exhibition in 1957 until the end of the 1960s, has still not received the debate it deserves.

This exhibition aims to fill that gap.

Thirty-three artists have contributed to the exhibition, including the pioneers of the genre Svavar Guðnason, Nína Tryggvadóttir, Jón Engilberts and Kristinn Pétursson, who set the scene in some of their landscapes for greater freedom in Icelandic abstract expressionism. Also in evidence is the work of the Septembermen, such as Hörður Ágústsson, Valtýr Pétursson, Kjartan Guðjónsson and others, who turned their backs on geometric abstract art and adopted a more interpretive approach.

Finally we see the abstract expressionism of a younger generation of artists: Elías B Halldórsson, Einar Þorláksson, Kári Eiríksson, Eyjólfur Einarsson and Ragnheiður Ream. The keynote works of the overall exhibition are those of Kristján Davíðsson and Eiríkur Smith. Abstract expressionism also left its mark on Icelandic 3-D art in the 1950s and 60s, as evidenced in works by Gerður Helgadóttir, Jóhann Eyfells, Jón and Guðmundur Benediktsson and Guðmundur Elíasson. Pride of place will be given to their work at the exhibition.

There are also paintings by some well-known and not so well-known artists that have not been shown before in this way, artists such as Árni Herbertsson, Jes Einar Þorsteinsson, Magnús Tómasson, Sigríður Björnsdóttir and Vilhjálmur Bergsson.

Curated by Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson, whose book covering this period of Icelandic art history will be available at the exhibition.


Sunday 16 September 2 p.m.
Kjarvalsstaðir – The Lyric Vision
Curator’s talk with Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson.

Sunday 23 September 3 p.m.
Kjarvalsstaðir – The Lyric Vision
Gallery Talk on Existentialism with philosopher Björn Þorsteinsson.

Sunday 14 October 3 p.m.
Kjarvalsstaðir – The Lyric Vision
Guided Tour and workshop for the family.

Sunday 28 October 3 p.m.
Kjarvalsstaðir – The Lyric Vision
Gallery talk with Icelandic artist Bjarni Sigurbjörnsson..

Images of exhibition

Images from opening