Post 1965

Not until 1965 did Norwegian artists terminate their close links with the French tradition, paying closer attention to developments in other countries such Britain and the United States. During the late 1960s Håkon Bleken (b1929) and Knut Rose (b1936) both worked with the problem of transforming the hitherto strict Norwegian painting structure into a more figurative and literary technique.

Meanwhile Jens Johannessen (b1934), another member of the same group, split with the modernists and developed more of a decorative art.

Strong impulses from American pop-art soon reached Norway, inspiring the development of a figurative expression with a revolutionary and strongly critical content. Artists now demonstrated their personal views which covered topics ranging from the Vietnam War to Third World development and various national issues such as the EU referendum of 1972. Per Kleiva (b1933) and Anders Kjær (b1940) were notably influenced by these trends. Arne Malmedal (b1937) and Kjell Pahr-Iversen (b1937) continued the abstract development, whereas other artists went more in the direction of figurative expression. Frans Wiedeberg (b1934) looked back to 19th-century Romanticism, using symbolic language in his interpretations of the human being and the cosmos, while Karl Erik Harr (b1940) featured landscapes of the sea in northern Norway.

Odd Nerdrum (b1944) consequently developed an approach going back to the time of the Baroque. In his early works he raised open questions concerning current society, though after 1958 he increasingly concentrated on developing his highly characteristic appearance, gaining international acclaim, especially in the USA.

By the 1980s Norwegian artists no longer followed a single line of influence and the decade was characterised by a proliferation of different forms and techniques of painting. However, the period also saw the development of multimedia and installation art. Noteworthy figures from the 1980s include Bjørn Ransve (b1944), who represented Norwegian post-modernism; Kjell Torriset (b1950), Ida Lorentzen (b1951) and Ulf Nilsen (b1950), who were all exploring figurative expression; Kjell Erik Killi Olsen (b1952), Håkon Gulvåg (b1959), Bjørg Holene (b1947) and Therese Nortvedt (b1953), whose featured literary paintings revealed surrealistic undertones; Leonard Richard (b1945), whose work was rooted in childhood memories woven together in abstract painting; and Bjørn Carlsen (b1945), who represented expressionism.

The Norwegian landscape has continued to be a source of inspiration for many artists, though in the 1980s and 1990s painters have been more abstract and expressionistic than their predecessors. A rawer and harsher landscape featuring archetypal mountain shapes is depicted by Olav Christopher Jensen (b1945), Anne Katrine Dolven (b1953), Ørnulf Opdahl (b1944), Bjørn Sigurd Tufta (b1956), Håvard Vikhagen (b1952), Olav Christopher Jenssen (b1954) and Andres Kjær. However, in the late 1990s painting no longer enjoys the same status since the focus on what is actually on the canvas is diminishing and more attention is paid to factors surrounding the actual picture. The context in which the picture is set also plays an important role, so that the physical framework includes theory and ideology, and the actual technique of the painting is now less interesting than how the painting functions in its surroundings.


Source: The text has been produced with kind permission from Visiting Arts from the Norway Arts Directory (ISBN 19020349164 © 1999).  E-mail: information@visitingarts.org.uk   |   Share on your network   |   print