Carl Kylberg - With Color Beyond the Surface
February 25–May 21, 2017
In the spring of 2017 Malmö Konstmuseum will be showing a comprehensive exhibition of the work of Carl Kylberg (1878–1952), one of the foremost figures of twentieth-century art in Sweden. His work is characterized by an inexhaustible experimentation with color combined with a spiritual seeking and a striving to reach beyond the surface of the canvas—and beneath the surface of existence. With his colorful and dissolving landscapes and groups of figures, Kylberg has captivated Swedish art enthusiasts for decades, but his work has also provoked controversy and debate. This exhibition sheds light on some of the heated controversies that broke out in the 1930s when the acquisition of one of his pieces by Nationalmuseum (the National Museum of Fine Arts) was prevented by the Swedish government. The new forms and expressive styles of modern art triggered strong reactions.
Before settling on painting, Kylberg studied architecture in turn-of-the-century Berlin, where he came into contact with the literature, art, and philosophy of the new era. The artist had strong ties with southern Sweden and the Öresund region—a theme that is featured in the exhibition. When Malmö Museum opened its new building on Slottsholmen in 1937, Kylberg donated three works to the city’s art collection. He spent a lot of time in Scania County, and lived and worked in the area around Helsingør, Denmark, for many years. Kylberg soon found a place in the Danish arts scene. His works were acquired by Statens Museum for Kunst (the National Gallery of Denmark) in Copenhagen, he had a number of exhibitions, and he was made an honorable member of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Through his contacts on the Danish side of the strait, Kylberg got an insightful view of the German occupation, and was profoundly affected by the horrors of Second World War. It was in Denmark that Kylberg came to deepen the dialogue between outside world and inner reality that would characterize the rest of his career.
Carl Kylberg: With Color Beyond the Surface is a further development of the exhibition shown at the Thiel Gallery in Stockholm in the summer of 2016. It emphasizes the breadth of Kylberg’s practice, from the early paintings and cartoons of the 1910s to the children’s books and intensely colorful paintings of the 20s and the more well-known works of the 30s and 40s. The show encompasses about fifty paintings and a large number of works on paper, and is the most comprehensive presentation of his career in southern Sweden since the great retrospective at Malmö Konsthall in 1977.
In connection with this exhibition, Malmö Konstmuseum is also publishing a catalogue of Carl Kylberg’s work with articles by curators Viveca Lindenstrand and Patrik Steorn, and an afterword by Cecilia Widenheim. The catalogue is an updated version of the publication produced by the Thiel Gallery last summer.
Curators: Viveca Lindenstrand and Patrik Steorn (Director of the Thiel Gallery, Stockholm)
Picture on homepage: Painting by Carl Kylberg, Himmel och hav, detail.