The exhibition Kjarval Complete offers the opportunity to see hundreds of works by Jóhannes S. Kjarval, one of Iceland’s leading artists of the 20th century, from the collection of the Reykjavík Art Museum. The exhibition, which opens at Kjarvalsstaðir on 21 December, will be hung in the manner of the salon, with pictures from floor to ceiling, in no particular order. The exhibition will bring out unexpected juxtapositions, disregarding all themes, periods, subjects and chronology. The viewer will approach Kjarval’s work without any guidance, and look into the artist’s world on his/her own terms.
The Reykjavík Art Museum has presented the Kjarval collection in many different ways, through themed shows, retrospectives and group exhibitions. The Museum’s Kjarval collection comprises 5,392 works: 5,159 drawings, 188 paintings, and other works.
Kjarval donated most of his works and personal effects to the City of Reykjavík in 1968. Part of the collection was exhibited for the first time when the Kjarvalsstaðir gallery opened in 1973. Since then the Kjarval collection has steadily grown, both by purchasing of works, and also due to generous donations of works by individuals.
Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval (1885-1972) has a special place in the history of Icelandic culture and art, as one of Iceland's most renowned and acclaimed artists. He became a legend in his own time, personifying for many the romantic image of the bohemian artist. Springing from Iceland’s age-old rural society, his life and work went hand-in-hand with Iceland’s social and artistic emergence into the modern world in the first half of the 20th century. Through Kjarval’s art, Icelanders learned to see the landscape of their country, and its people, in a new light, along with the magical folk traditions bound up with the landscape and the Icelandic character.
Kjarval’s works have often been classified into three main groups: landscapes, drawings, and symbolic paintings.