press release

He is one of Sweden’s most internationally well-known artists, with a career that spans nearly seven decades. From the now legendary era of 1960s modern art, over nine years working on the Kilroy installation, to reinventing his creativity after a stroke: Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd constantly changed the concept for both himself and art.

“CARL FREDRIK REUTERSWÄRD Closed for holidays 1963-1972”. This declaration, printed under “public notices” on page ten in the New York Herald Tribune in January 1963, is a minimal work of art – measuring 5 x 45 millimetres. But it was also Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd’s monumental way of marking the launch of his Kilroy project. On his announced nine-year holiday, Reuterswärd intended to create nine objects under the collective title of Kilroy. The exhibition Alias: CFR presents the entire group of objects in the installation Kilroy II, which the artist donated to Moderna Museet in 2001. In addition, objects, laser and sketch material relating to Kilroy will be featured.

Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd was born in Stockholm in 1934 and died in Landskrona in 2016. He is one of Sweden’s most internationally-famed artists, and was a part of the dynamic modern art scene that evolved in the 1960s and thrived in venues such as the recently-opened Moderna Museet. In 1961, Reuterswärd participated in the iconic group exhibition Movement in Art, before moving to New York the following year.

Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd was active as an artist, writer and poet for nearly seven decades. His creative practice addressed issues of identity and art, and he worked under several pseudonyms. As Charlie Lavendel, for instance, in the protective darkness of the performance space, he sprayed the unknowing audience with lavender oil at a Fluxus evening in 1963, putting everyone in the auditorium to sleep. Reuterswärd was also among the first to utilise new technology such as lasers and holograms, challenging the concept of sculpture as an object and creating something that was both material and immaterial.

Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd’s most famous work, Non-Violence, is a bronze revolver with a knotted barrel. Conceived as a monument over his friend John Lennon who was murdered, it stands outside the United Nations headquarters in New York since 1988. The sculpture also exists in some 20 other places across the world, from Beijing to Cape Town.

The exhibition Alias: CFR focuses on Kilroy (1963-1972) and on a series of large, expressive drawings the artist made after suffering a stroke in 1989, an event that forced him to switch from drawing with his right hand to his left. Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd described the time after his stroke as partly liberating. He began drawing with his left hand, and the lines and motifs seem to go on a search back in time and into the future, before and after his stroke. In his monumental oil crayon drawings from the late 1990s, mythological figures and acrobats appear. Enigmatic and dream-like, these motifs differ from his early conceptual exercises, while at the same time consolidating the artist’s constant explorations of new styles and approaches.

The exhibition is shown in the right-hand gallery on Floor 2. It was presented at Moderna Museet Malmö this spring and has been complemented with further works in Stockholm.