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Sweden's Nationalmuseum announces acquisition of portrait of the artist Dick Bengtsson
Erik Cornelius, Portrait of the artist Dick Bengtsson, 1970. © Erik Cornelius.
STOCKHOLM.- The Swedish National Portrait Gallery has acquired a portrait of Dick Bengtsson taken by photographer Erik Cornelius.It forms part of a series of photographs taken for an exhibition of contemporary Swedish art in Paris in 1970. The artist is portrayed standing on the bank of the Voxnan river, surrounded by his works.

Dick Bengtsson (1936–1989) was one of the most original figures in the US-inspired Swedish Pop Art movement. He grew up in Stockholm, but also had a studio among the vast forests of Hälsingland. It is here that Erik Cornelius captured him, standing down by the Voxnan river, surrounded by an installation of his works against a backdrop of trees. It was the artist’s own idea to be photographed on this spot. In the centre stands Dick Bengtsson’s best known work, the mysterious painting Richard in Paris (now held by Moderna Museet).The other objects were later destroyed in a fire.

The portrait is part of a series of photographs created in 1970 for the exhibition Alternative Suédois which presented contemporary Swedish art to a French audience at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. In the catalogue, Dick Bengtsson chose not to be represented exclusively by his own works. Among the illustrations there are also over a dozen photographs by Erik Cornelius capturing the artist and his installations in the Hälsingland countryside.

At around this time Erik Cornelius worked at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. In addition to photographing museum objects, he took portraits of the Swedish art elite there. In parallel with a long career as a museum photographer, Cornelius also created his own works. Some of them show a fascination with the relationship between nature and art, an interest he shared with Bengtsson. Perhaps this is why, in his picture of Bengtsson, Cornelius has managed to capture something that appealed to them both?

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