Caspar David Friedrich, the leading painter of the German Romantic era, is nowadays regarded as one of the greatest figures in the history of art. Nevertheless, he remains relatively unknown in Sweden outside art history circles. This October, Nationalmuseum
will set out to change this by presenting Scandinavias first monographic exhibition of works by Friedrich. In all, over 90 artworks will be on show, including some 40 paintings. In his paintings, Friedrich depicts the Romantic belief in an animated nature where the divine permeates everything.
Fairly small images lead the onlooker into suggestive landscapes of mountains, sea and land. Silent human figures are lost in their surroundings, and the images convey a contemplative mood charged with a spiritual presence below the surface.
In Friedrichs view, the artists emotions alone should determine the character of the work. Artists should paint not only what they saw in front of them, but especially what they saw inside themselves. Thus a landscape painting becomes a kind of self-portrait reflecting the artists personality.
A number of Scandinavian connections feature in Caspar David Friedrichs life and art. He was born 1774 in the port city of Greifswald in the north German province of Pomerania, which at the time belonged to Sweden. He attended the Copenhagen academy of fine art. During his many years in Dresden, he was close friends with the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl. Friedrichs world of imagery also has some obvious Scandinavian features. But despite these links, not one work by Friedrich hangs in a Swedish gallery.
Obtaining loans of Friedrichs art is a laborious process, explains Torsten Gunnarsson, exhibition curator. There is not one known work in a Swedish collection. So we are delighted to be able, thanks to our international contacts, to present a monographic exhibition to the Swedish public for the first time.
When the Museum Folkwang in Essen and the Hamburger Kunsthalle staged a Friedrich exhibition three years ago, the response was hugely enthusiastic. The honorary patron of Nationalmuseums exhibition is HM Queen Silvia, who, at the opening of the Essen exhibition, expressed a desire to present Friedrichs works to a Swedish audience.
Friedrich has inspired many artists in our own time. In parallel with the main exhibition, The Gallery on the ground floor will be showing how eight Swedish contemporary artists have maintained and developed Friedrichs legacy. On display will be works by Karin Mamma Andersson, Ann Böttcher, Cecilia Edefalk, Denise Grünstein, Jan Håfström, Lars Nilsson, Håkan Rehnberg and Sigrid Sandström. The exhibits will show that interest in Friedrich is not confined to painting but also extends to other techniques: sculpture, drawing, photography, collage and film.
Caspar David Friedrich Nature Animated will be on show on the 2nd floor at Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, from 2 October 2009 until 10 January 2010.