Henie Onstad Kunstsenter presents the radically innovative works of Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup (1880 - 1928). The exhibition is the first major international presentation of the artist outside of Norway.
As one of the most renowned Norwegian artists, Astrup's work transforms the rugged Norwegian landscape into a mythical, living entity. Exploring the luscious, colourful paintings and radical innovation in printmaking that defined the Norwegian artist's career, the exhibition will bring over 100 oil paintings and prints, including works from private collections never exhibited before.
Astrup sought a national "visual language" that evoked the traditions and folklore of his homeland. Best known for his luminous paintings of Midsummer Eve bonfires, Astrup’s landscapes evoke the atmosphere and changing seasons of his home district of Jølster. Places important to Astrup - the old parsonage where he grew up, his beautiful farmstead at Sandalstrand (named "Astruptunet" after him), and the lake Jølstravatnet were to become the focus and inspiration of a unique and extraordinary body of work.
Nikolai Astrup was born in 1880, in Kalvåg in Bremanger, Nordfjord. He was the eldest child to his pastor father, Christian Astrup and his mother Petra Constance. The family moved to a parsonage in the village of Ålhus, Jølster in 1883. In 1899 Astrup began as a student at the Royal School of Drawing in Kristiania, producing nude drawings and portrait studies, also in oil.
In 1901, Astrup exhibited his first piece of artwork in Kristiania Art Association’s Spring Exhibition; Autumn Rain in a Mountain Village, 1900. Astrup concluded his studies at Harriet Backer’s school in 1901, and was awarded the Schou travel stipend in November. He made his way to various art collections in Europe, before becoming a student of Christian Krohg at the Académie Colarossi in Paris. By 1902, Astrup had returned to Jølster for good, living at the Parsonage more or less permanently between 1902- 1913. A recommendation from Christian Krohg stated “I believe that he will be the one who will most successfully elevate the position of Norwegian art both at home and abroad.” His first solo exhibition was presented at Blomqvist Kunsthandel in Kristiania in April, 1905 and received effusive reviews.
In 1907, on the 23rd December, Astrup married Engel Sunde. Shortly afterwards, in January 1908, Astrup travelled to London on a stipend from the Henrichsen Foundation and when he returned in May, he presented his second solo exhibition at Bergen Art Association. 1911 saw Astrup’s third and last solo exhibition, displayed at the Artists’ Association,Kristiania. In the same year, Astrup’s first child was born, a daughter named Kari. In the same year the family moved to a newly constructed house in Myklebust, before relocating to Sandalstrand in 1913. The subsequent years saw fewer trips – one to Copenhagen and Stockholm in 1916, another to Algeria in 1922 – as Astrup’s health deteriorated. Astrup died of pneumonia on 21 January 1928, at the age of 47, after complications with his lungs from a lifetime battle with asthma and tuberculosis.
A number of contemporary artists are exploring themes that expound this aspect of Astrup’s legacy. In works that encompass ecology, plant studies and care for insect life, we find echoes of Astrup’s values. HOK has invited several of these artists to create works that engage in dialogue with Astrup both indoors and outside – extending and underscoring Astrup’s relevance today. The interior portion of this exhibition will be on viewat HOK until 21 August.