Composition

Mixed media on paper, 1949, 22x22,3cm

Anna-Eva Bergman (1909-1987) appears today as one of the central Norwegian artists of the 20th century. However, it was not until the late 1990s that her significance became definitively established in Norwegian art history. This was most likely due to the fact that she moved to France early in her career and that she was more active on the French art scene than the Norwegian. Through her husband Hans Hartung she was introduced early to a sophisticated international art milieu, and it is particularly relevant to point to her kinship with artists such as Kandinsky, Miró, Klee, and not least Jean Arp and Yves Tanguy.

Composition from 1950 is characteristic of her formative phase and has a free and spontaneous brushwork. The imaginative and improvised style is clearly reminiscent of Kandinsky’s works from the interwar period. With a point of departure in surrealism, spontaneity and automatism, Bergman developed a personal abstract mode of expression during the late 1940s, early 1950s, and the results she arrived at formed the foundation of all of her later work as a visual artist. Anna-Eva Bergman thus reveals herself not only to be a successor of surrealism’s form; she defined a relevant and pioneering solution to what it could result in. 

OWG

No28-1958

tempera and gold bronze on paper, placed on canvas, 1957, 50x65cm

 

Anna-Eva Bergman (1909-1987) is among the significant Norwegian artists of the past century, and her position has been consolidated through exhibitions and acquisitions sponsored by the leading public institutions. Nevertheless, in many ways she has remained an outsider in the Norwegian art milieu. This primarily due to the fact that she left Norway early on and lived and worked mainly in France and Germany during a large part of her career. Through her German husband, Hans Hartung, she was introduced to a sophisticated international art milieu as early as the 30s, and was gradually influenced by movements such as Surrealism, automatism and spontaneous painting.

 

Although Anna-Eva Bergman primarily lived and worked abroad and was part of an international milieu, it was a trip to Northern Norway in 1950 that would come to have vital importance for her development as a visual artist. Above all, it was her encounter with the massive and harsh North Norwegian landscape that made an impression, and which was transformed in her imagery into nearly abstract universal signs and symbols. Around 1950 she also began to work with gold and silver in her paintings, and in the following years her idiom became increasingly stringent. She reduced her palette and moved in the direction of a more concentrated and compressed form, as we can see a characteristic example of in No-38 1958. In 1964 she returned to Northern Norway, and the impressions from the first trip were now reinforced and would come to influence her works for the remainder of her career. From the end of the 60s Anna-Eva Bergman began to work in larger formats and an additional simplification of the idiom occurs; one can interject that towards the end of her career she reverts to a certain degree to an elegant and ingratiating style, which causes the paintings to tend to lean toward design.

 

OWG

 

Composition in black and green

oil on board, 1949, 27x22cm

Composition in Black and Green from 1950 is a characteristic work from Bergman’s early, formative period. We can see here how she gained inspiration from Surrealism at the same time that the picture foreshadows the more modern mode of expression that she evolved towards the end of the decade and throughout the 60s.

Anna-Eva Bergman (1909-87) is counted among the leading Norwegian visual artists of her generation and belongs to the so-called École de Paris, which can be seen as the French equivalent of American Abstract Expressionism. Bergman is in some ways a stranger in Norwegian art history and in a sense belongs more to a European art historical context. This is due to the fact that she left Norway relatively early and was strongly influenced by the leading international artists of the time. She spent a great part of her life living and working abroad, and together with her husband, Hans Hartung, she lived a nomadic life travelling between France, Germany, Spain and Norway.

OWG

No25-1960

Tempera on papir, 1959, 62,5x48cm