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Romantic Postmodernism – Göteborgs konstmuseum

Romantic Postmodernism – Landscape, Selfcontemplation and Horror
May 30–September 13, 2015

The background to Postmodernism was the conceptual attitude of the 1960s, in which the idea of the work was considered more important than the individual style of the artist. This opened up for a new way of relating to art history; artists often borrowed from earlier periods and worked in many different media and styles, not least Romanticism. While Postmodernism was often characterized as anti-Romantic, the work of many of the artists nonetheless markedly often appeared to be modelled on Romanticism. In lieu of authenticity, subjectivity and emotion, the postmodernists often turned to romantic irony, the fragment, incompleteness, theatricality and exaggeration. The legacy of Romanticism lived on, albeit in a new way.

The exhibition investigated the presence of Romanticism in Nordic art from the 1980s and onward. Here, the meltingly colourful paintings of Rolf Hanson and Leena Luostarinen were shown side by side with Ola Billgren’s sequence of prints 19 Romantic Landscapes and Olafur Eliasson’s landscape photography from Iceland. In the central part of the exhibition, Nina Sten-Knudsen’s monumental view of the Gulf of Naples met Gerhard Nordström’s painting from Pompeii. The exhibition also included Cecilia Edefalk’s unemotional self-portraits and works by Max Book and Nils Olav Böe, among others.

In total, around 80 works by around 30 Nordic artists from the museum’s collection were included in the exhibition. The theme was based on Kristoffer Arvidsson’s thesis Romantic Post Modernism: Art Criticism and the Romantic in Swedish Art in the 1980s and 1990s, which added depth to the exhibition.

Caption: Maria Friberg, from the series Still Lives (4) (partly shown), 2005, Gothenburg Museum of Art
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