The Lyric Vision – Abstract-Expressionism in Icelandic Art, 1957-1970
The exhibition seeks to trace the development of abstract-expressionism in Iceland from 1957–1970, by looking at a representation of works selected from three generations of artists. The Lyric Vision also attempts to re-evaluate the prevalent belief that, at the arrival of geometric art in the early 1950s, it curtails professional interests in pursuing landscape-based painting, which is, conceivably the pillar of 20th century Icelandic art.
The prelude to expressionistic or lyric abstraction in Icelandic art in Iceland is evident in the early landscapes of Icelandic painters, namely Jóhannes S. Kjarval, Jón Stefánsson and Finnur Jónsson, which evolves from natural sceneries into wefts of abstract forms and nature, almost in tandem with geometric abstraction art. Icelandic abstract-expressionism seeks instead to fuse the spontaneity of French lyric painting with the grand visions of the American abstract-expressionists. In the process a home-grown sensibility gradually emerges in paintings by Svavar Guðnason, Kristján Davíðsson, Eiríkur Smith, Hörður Ágústsson and Steinþór Sigurðsson. It is generally acknowledged that the 1957 exhibition of works by Kristján Davíðsson is the first true representation of lyric abstraction. At the onset of the 1960s, a new generation of abstract painters enters the scene. These painters are generally not regarded as abstract-expressionists, but their work combines no less emphatic references to nature than the art of their predecessors.