press release

Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) is nowadays regarded as one of the towering figures of German art. As the great individualist of 19th-century landscape painting, he added a new character and poetic depth to his motifs. In Friedrich’s world of suggestive imagery, the great questions of existence are represented in the encounter between man and nature.

Nature as a reflection of the divine

No artist has been more effective than Friedrich at depicting a belief in animated nature permeated by the divine. His paintings convey a strong sense of a spiritual presence beneath the surface of reality. This duality adds a fascinating, enigmatic dimension to Friedrich’s art. In Friedrich’s view, the artist’s emotions should determine the character of the work. Artists should paint not only what they saw in front of them, but what they saw inside themselves. Thus a landscape became, in a sense, a self-portrait as well. This exhibition focuses primarily on three themes: Mountains, Sea and Shore, and Trees.

Scandinavian connections

A number of Scandinavian connections featured in Caspar David Friedrich’s life and art. He was born in the port city of Greifswald in what was then Swedish Pomerania, in northern Germany. He attended the Copenhagen academy of fine art. During his many years in Dresden, the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl was his close friend and neighbour. Friedrich’s world of imagery also has some obvious Scandinavian features.

First time in Scandinavia

Despite his connection to Sweden, not one work by Friedrich hangs in a Swedish gallery, and his name is a lot less well known than it deserves to be. Thanks to generous loans from galleries in Germany, England, Russia, Spain, the United States, Norway and Denmark, and from private collections, this exhibition offers the Swedish public a unique opportunity to discover the art of Caspar David Friedrich, in the shape of some 40 paintings and 50 drawings.

Eight Contemporary Commentaries

Interest in the Romantic era resurfaced as postmodernism emerged and rejected modernist ideals. References to Friedrich can be found in the works of several of our most interesting contemporary artists. It is not a matter of artistic style so much as a philosophical attitude to some of the Romantic concepts, which have been translated to other media such as painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, graphics and collage. A separate exhibition of contemporary art in dialogue with Friedrich’s legacy is on show in Galleriet on the ground floor. In this exhibition, Friedrich, Eight Contemporary Commentaries, you will encounter works by Karin Mamma Andersson, Ann Böttcher, Cecilia Edefalk, Denise Grünstein, Håkan Rehnberg, Jan Håfström, Sigrid Sandström and Lars Nilsson.

Exhibition curators: Torsten Gunnarsson and Bo Nilsson