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Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Strindberg’s Landscapes

May 14, 2014 | by

August_Strindberg_-_Flower_by_the_Shore_-1893

Flower by the Shore, 1893

August_Strindberg_-_Landscape,_seascape-_Vågen_VIII_(Wave_VIII)_-_1901

Vågen VIII, 1901

August_Strindberg_-_The_Town_-1903

The Town, 1903

August_Strindberg_-_Wonderland_-1894

Wonderland, 1894

Tallen_(August_Strindberg,_1873)

Tallen, 1873

The_White_Mare_II,_1892

The White Horse, 1892

Fact: August Strindberg could paint. Though he was always more renowned for his plays and novels, he was a prolific artist, producing more than one hundred works over the course of his life. In their brooding expressionism, his paintings were every inch as forward-thinking as his contemporaries—he counted Gauguin and Munch among his friends—and his work received enough notice that in 1894 he published an essay on his methods in a Parisian journal.

Strindberg, who died today in 1912, had an array of interests: at various points, he turned to painting, photography, telegraphy, theosophy, alchemy, and Swedenborgianism, a sect of Christianity that denied the Holy Trinity. The plenitude of his hobbies made him, depending on whom you asked, a polymath, a dilettante, or an insane person.

Strindberg tended to paint only in times of grave crisis, when he found himself too distraught to write. Maybe accordingly his landscapes are seldom sylvan, his seascapes seldom serene, and his skies seldom sunny. In 2001, Cabinet published a well-observed essay by Douglas Feuk about Strindberg’s vatic art:

In his paintings there is always a “motif”—often stormy skies, agitated waves, perhaps a lonely rock by the sea. But these landscapes or seascapes are still half-embedded in the material, like a world in the process of being created. Boundaries and differences are fluid: Air might have the same density as stone, and the rock seems mysteriously fused with the water—as if they were all but different manifestations of the same matter. In fact, the tactile surface in Strindberg's paintings is at times emphasized so much that not only does it provide an image of nature, it also, in part, gives the impression of being nature. In the painting High Sea, for example, there are sections that Strindberg has blackened with a burner, but also patches of a brownish-gray, rough structure that seem to be not so much painted as oxidized, or in other ways created by some elementary process of nature.

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What We’re Loving: Oology, Impostors, Sweden

July 26, 2013 | by

Lord Walter Rothschild, founder of England’s Natural History Museum at Tring, home of the world’s largest bird-egg collection, in his zebra-drawn carriage.

Lord Walter Rothschild, founder of England’s Natural History Museum at Tring, home of the world’s largest bird-egg collection.

Julian Rubinstein’s “Operation Easter,” in last week’s New Yorker, has been my breakfast reading and dinner conversation most of this week. Concerned with the obsession for collecting birds’ eggs—a mania that dates back almost to the mid-nineteenth century—the article relates lurid tales of collectors falling off cliffs in pursuit of nests, hiding amassed collections in secret compartments in their beds, and donning guises to steal eggs from a museum (the party in question pinched ten thousand eggs in some three years). When investigators from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds apprehend a suspect in his apartment, the man tells them, “Thank God you’ve come … I can’t stop.” With investigators jumping into cars, busting down doors, and engaging in two-day island-wide manhunts, this article reads more than a little like a thriller. I’d love to see Gary Oldman in a starring role when it hits the big screen. —Nicole Rudick

I can’t help seconding Sadie’s recommendation of In Love, a novella by Alfred Hayes that has just been reissued by New York Review Classics. The story of a casual love affair that becomes serious as soon it starts to fall apart, In Love harks back to a classic French tradition—what you might call the Novel of Disillusionment—perfected over a century by Constant, Flaubert, Turgenev, and Proust, among others. At the same time, in its use of one-sided dialogue, its film noir sensibility, and its evocation of New York life, this 1953 masterpiece also seems utterly modern—a culmination and a book utterly at home in its moment. —Lorin Stein

This month I had a particularly blue moment. I returned to an old favorite, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye , and then immediately afterward read Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, a book that had been recommended to me several times by fellow students and professors alike. It would be difficult for me to state, with confidence, what exactly Bluets is about. The book-length essay is written in vignettes, each numbered and varying in length. Nelson begins with a captivating proposition: “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.” Something that began as “[a]n appreciation, an affinity” became something “more serious” and then “it became somehow personal.” I drifted easily into Nelson’s world of blue, in which she seamlessly strings together personal narratives, quotes, and facts, each poignant sketch its own bluish jewel. —Jo Stewart Read More »

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Stieg’s Stockholm

July 28, 2011 | by

This spring, exiting the Stockholm-Arlanda airport, I found myself in a hall which enthusiastically proclaimed, “Welcome to Sweden!” From its walls, huge portraits of the country’s greatest cultural exports greeted me, head shot after head shot. There were actors and directors (Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Ingmar Bergman), austere portraits of authors (Astrid Lindgren, August Strindberg), and, in 1970s color, ABBA under disco lights, and Bjorn Borg, whacking a tennis ball. At the end of this procession, as if its grand finale, was a full-body photograph of Stieg Larsson. His head rested on his hand, in a position not unlike that of Rodin’s thinker. It’s a familiar photograph, the same one that appears on the back of each of his books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

The Millennium trilogy, as the three are called, has sold more than fifty-one million copies worldwide. Larsson, who died in 2004 of a heart attack, at the age of fifty, never saw the success of his fiction, which he wrote mostly on the side. For him, the books were “like therapy,” his partner Eva Gabrielsson writes in her memoir ‘There Are Things I Want You to Know’ About Stieg Larsson and Me. Read More »

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