Graphic Arts

Graphic art did not develop in Norway until 1895, when Edvard Munch began to use various techniques, including wood-print, etching and lithography. His work was not immediately recognised in Norway due to the fact that he lived overseas, so that his graphic art techniques had no influence on the work of his fellow Norwegian artists. Some years later Nikolai Astrup developed a very personal style using the technique of colour wood-print, and Johan Nordhagen made an important contribution by teaching at the Royal Academy of Arts and Crafts (1899) providing a solid base for Norwegian graphic art training. During the first half of the 20th century the most prominent Norwegian graphic artists were Rolf Nesch (1893-1975), who gained international acclaim for his original technique of metal graphics, and Sámi artist John Savio (1902-1938), who worked primarily with wood prints.

During the 1950s and 1960s Sigurd Winge turned towards German expressionism, taking up the techniques of Rolf Nesch. He worked mainly with etching, experimenting with the contrasts between light and dark colours. The general trend during the 1950s was landscapes and figure studies, mostly through the use of wood prints and lithography. Many promising artists followed the style of Stanley Hayter’s international Atelier 17 in Paris, which specialised in a technique of printing more colours with only one plate. In 1965 Reidar Rudjord and Anne Breivik founded a workshop in Oslo, Atelier Nord, following the principles of the Paris studio.

The 1970s saw the introduction of various new techniques, including silk-screen printing, and there was also a revival in the art of etching in both figurative and non-figurative work. The 1970s are often referred to as the golden age of graphic arts, since increased interest in the genre was noticable amongst both the arts community and the public and many new workshops and artists’ co-operatives were established. Noteworthy names in recent years include Bjørn-Willy Mortensen (1941-1993), Per Kleiva (b1933) and Anders Kjær (b1940).

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