Opening October 12 at Scandinavia House, Cutting Edges: Nordic Concrete Art from the Erling Neby Collection presents concrete art from the Nordic countries in a collection never before seen in the U.S. Curated by Karin Hellandsjø, Director Emeritus of the Henie Onstad Art Centre, this exhibition presents over 30 key works from major artists in painting, drawing, and sculpture.
A practice that was developed before and after World War II, and devised to avoid ambiguity in the word ‘abstract,’ concrete art is characterized by combinations of simple geometric elements to create autonomous visual realities. First used in 1929 by Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian, internationally recognized artists such as Victor Vasarely, Max Bill, Burgoyne Diller, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Josef Albers became exponents of the practice, which attracted the attention of Nordic artists visiting the Geometric and Concrete art scene centered around the Galerie Denise René in Paris.
Much like their contemporaries in the U.S. and Paris, these Nordic artists became interested in creating concrete and non-objective artworks both social and universal, using pure form and color based on mathematical principles, in line with a new utopian vision. International exhibitions of concrete art also travelled to the Nordic capitals in the early years, leading to a dynamic, influential interaction with art centers in Europe and the Americas that has since continued up until this day.
Artists in this exhibition include Olle Bærtling, Lars Erik Falk and Lars Englund (Sweden); Richard Mortensen and Robert Jacobsen (Denmark); Kristján Guðmundsson (Iceland); Gunnar S. Gundersen, Arne Malmedal, Kristin Nordhøy, Aase Texmon Rygh and Bjørn Ransve (Norway); and Lars-Gunnar Nordström, Sam Vanni, Paul Osipow and Matti Kujasalo (Finland). Works by these artists are distinguished by their use of bright colours and geometric edges.
Cutting Edges will open on October 12, 2019. It will be accompanied by a range of programming, including related art workshops for children. Related events will be updated throughout the fall; check back here for more details.
This exhibition has been funded in part by the generous support of The Bergesen Foundation and The Nordic Culture Fund. Additional support has been provided by the following: ABG Sundal Collier, KEF Sound, and AXA Art Insurance.
About the Collector
Erling Neby began collecting works by concrete artists in the early 1970s. Since then, he has built up a substantial and extraordinary collection of concrete art in paintings, sculpture and graphics, by both Nordic and international artists, which has been exhibited throughout Europe since the early 1990s at museums including the Whitney Museum and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The Erling Neby Collection is small, concentrated and characterized by a deep personal engagement on the part of the collector, with works of outstanding quality and character.
All the acquisitions are made by Neby. Apart from its strength in Nordic art, the collection includes key figures in concrete European art such as Auguste Herbin, Jean Dewasne, Alberto Magnelli and Victor Vasarely, alongside American concrete artists like John McLaughlin, Ludwig Sander, Leon Polk Smith and Burgoyne Diller.
About the Curator
Karin Hellandsjø is Director Emeritus of the Henie Onstad Art Centre. She received her PhD in Art History from the University of Oslo and began her career as Curator at the Henie Onstad Art Centre, where she worked for almost two decades before assuming the roles of Chief Curator and Head of the Museum Department at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, from 1988-2005. In March 2005, she returned to the Henie Onstad Art Centre as Director. Hellandsjø retired in 2011 and is now working as independent scholar and art consultant.
In 2005, Hellandsjø curated the show NORGE. Contemporary Landscapes from the Collection of Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway at Scandinavia House, and she has since collaborated with the organization on several occasions, most recently as curator of the 2018 exhibition Light Lines: The Art of Jan Groth, Inger Johanne Grytting, and Thomas Pihl. She is a Knight, 1st Class, of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, de la Republique Francaise.