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New Art. Charlotte Mannheimer and the Rise of Modernism in Gothenburg – Göteborgs konstmuseum

6 April–27 October 2024

The artist, art patron and cultural personage Charlotte Mannheimer (1866-1934) was crucial in establishing modern art in Gothenburg during the 1910s and 1920s. She ran the gallery Ny Konst (New Art), an important platform for disseminating novel art with vibrant colours on Gothenburg’s cultural scene. She supported many of the young artists, and her family home was an important meeting point for many Nordic cultural personages. Even though she played an important role in the public art world, Charlotte Mannheimer has remained anonymous in art history. With this exhibition, the Gothenburg Museum of Art wishes to emphasize Charlotte Mannheimer’s major contribution to the art and culture scene in Gothenburg and in a broader Nordic context.

Early on, Mannheimer became friends with several of the artists who are considered to have paved the way for modernism’s breakthrough in Sweden, such as Tor Bjurström, Isaac Grünewald, Gösta Sandels and Birger Simonsson. Stylistically, many of these artists were highly influenced by Henri Matisse and several of them had been his pupils in Paris. Some of these artists later established their own group in Gothenburg, and their contact with Mannheimer was undoubtedly an important reason for their choice of city, since several of them received financial support from her.

Charlotte Mannheimer had artistic ambitions herself, studying at the South Kensington Art School as well as the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Due to various private and public demands, she periodically gave less priority to her own career as an artist. Still, Mannheimer’s art was shown in several much talked about exhibition contexts and she also spent several months at Henri Matisse’s art school in Paris.

Ny Konst (New Art) and the Art Scene in Gothenburg
During the years around 1920, Mannheimer ran the gallery Ny Konst (New Art), one of the first venues for contemporary art in the city. Both Gothenburg-based and Nordic artists were introduced to the public – among them several female artists such as Mollie Faustman, Tora Vega Holmström, Maj Bring and Sigrid Hjertén.

Over time, Charlotte Mannheimer’s role on the public art scene in Gothenburg took precedence over her own career as an artist. In parallel with her commitment to the gallery Ny Konst, for many years Charlotte Mannheimer was also the vice-chairman of the Gothenburg Art Association, an important arena for Nordic contemporary art in Gothenburg. Through donations of contemporary art to the Gothenburg Museum’s art department and schools, she also ensured that the younger generation of artists were seen by a broader public.

Thanks to her vast network, Mannheimer had ample opportunity to influence which contemporary art was on offer in the city. Through her work, she contributed to increasing the understanding of contemporary art, spreading it to a wider audience and making Gothenburg a dynamic hub for modern art.

Modernist art in a West Swedish and Norwegian perspective
The exhibition presents a selection of Charlotte Mannheimer’s own works, along with works by the Nordic modernists she supported, such as Isaac Grünewald, Gösta Sandels, Sigrid Hjertén, Vera Nilsson, Jean Heiberg and Henrik Sørensen. Among the motifs are portraits with vibrant colours, decorative interiors and stylized landscapes, works which for the most part are from the Gothenburg Museum of Art’s collection. Here, modernist art is shown in a West Swedish and Norwegian perspective, providing a partly different angle on the story of the development of modernism in Sweden. Mannheimer’s role as an art patron and cultural personage is also depicted with the family home and interior decoration aesthetics as a point of departure.



Top Image: Sigrid Hjertén, Stilleben, 1917, The image is cropped, Gothenburg Museum of Art. Photo: Hossein Sehatlou.