Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Louisa Matthiasdottir

Reykjavik Harbour
oil on canvas
86.5 x 122 cm
location unknown
fair use

Louisa Matthiasdottir (1917-2000), born in Reykjavik, Iceland, she was known for her Icelandic landscapes, still lifes, interiors, portraits and self portraits, all distinguished by their simple, geometric shapes and flat planes of crisp color, bold color.

She showed artistic skills in early age and as a young woman she studied art in Denmark. After that period, she moved to Paris and stayed there for about one year, where she had the chance to improve her skills. From the late 1930s she became at once one of the most important figures of Icelandic avant-garde. In these paintings subjects are painted with a broad brush. This feature aimed to emphasize geometrical forms and soon became typical of her style.

She came to New York in 1942 and had her first solo show in 1948 which established her as an artist in New York’s art scene. While her work of the 1950s saw her introducing elements of expressionism, from the 1960s until the end of her life she developed and refined the idiom of forthright color, uncluttered composition and brisk execution for which she is best known.

She was always in a close relationship with her land of origin, in fact she was to remain an Icelandic citizen all her life and she used to go back to Iceland very often. Moreover the paintings of her final three decades include Icelandic landscapes, a series of self-portraits, and tabletop still-life arrangements. The landscapes often include charmingly stylized depictions of Icelandic horses and sheep. She began to gain more notoriety in the 1960′s as an important representational painter. In 1996, she was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Cultural Award, and in 1998 became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The poet John Ashbery described the result of her latter creative efforts as “flavor, both mellow and astringent, which no other painter gives us”.