on 17 April 2014
An absolutely fantastic book of an area of European art which is very little known. People may get excited by Munch's "The Scream" (I'm not sure I understand why) but there is far more to the art of this remote, slightly mysterious Nordic land. I saw this book in a bookshop in Helsinki and KNEW I had to get it on my return to the UK. It is full of the most interesting paintings, beautifully selected and printed, and show that - while Nordic art may not have been cutting edge - it certainly evokes the feelings, influences and aspirations of the countries and their people at the turn of the 19/20th century.
The articles which accompany the paintings (which cover Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) provide a very detailed analysis of what was happening. My own feeling, for what it is worth, is that there is a major over-emphasis on the influence of France and French Impressionism and a lack of linking back to Nordic mythology and the hard existence but deep imagination of the Nordic people. It is particularly disappointing that - as so often with writers on European art - no credence is given to the work of Russian masters such as Repin, Shishkin and Levitan. Given that Finland was a Russian Duchy, I find this an extraordinary oversight.
But don't let this critique put you off. This is a superb book - worth it just for the selection of paintings and for the insights they give to the impact of landscape, light and religion to the Nordic artists.
on 16 November 2014
There were some stunning paintings in this very generously colour packed anthology. The idea, voiced in the introduction, that Nordic artists - ranging from Iceland to Denmark, were independant of movements elsewhere in Europe, is belied, by at least one beautiful painting of Breakfast, which is very reminiscent of the Young Renoir - an absolutely glorious painting. Only two Hammershoi! They should have done better than that. Some of the landscapes are as ethereal as one imagines the actual landscapes are, and some of the ones of groups indoors are more depictions of social history than some of the Impressionist's group interiors are. Reminiscent of a Hopperean eye, perhaps. For anyone who thinks Northern art is frozen, look again.
on 7 September 2013
Buying an Art book online, unseen in real life, was a bit of a risk; however I could not have been more delighted. The quality of the binding, printing (and of the content itself!) is very high. A wide range of artists represented by a good selection of work plus biographical information and essays. Purchased as a gift, but if it had been leaving the household I would have found it hard to let go!