Isaac Grünewald - a new book + exhibition
Scandals, fame and anti-Semitism in the Swedish media.
Exhibition September 15–18, entrance Berzelii Park 1
Hours: 2 - 6pm daily
Saturday Sept 17: from 11am - 6pm
Bernhard Grünewald has written a book on his grandfather, Isaac Grünewald, one of the most popular artists of the 1900s, the Matisse student and one of the radical artists who introduced expressionism to Sweden. The book not only indicates to what extent Grünewald was subjected to rumour and speculation as a person, but also exposes the deeply suspicious and xenophobic attitude of the Swedish press with regard to the artist’s Jewish background. In connection with the book release, thirty odd works borrowed from the Grünewald family and various collectors will be exhibited.
Bernhard Grünewald, Isaac’s youngest grandchild, has studied press material in the family’s possession and in archives. From a cultural standpoint, Sweden was quite an isolated country at the time, where new influences from the continent were met with considerable suspicion and scepticism by the critics. Isaac Grünewald was especially vulnerable, due to his art often being associated with his Jewish background despite the fact that he grew up in a non-religious family that had been Swedish for generations.
- He was referred to as “un-Swedish”, “foreign”, “the talented oriental” and critics maintained in virtually every review that he simply mimicked, influenced by a multitude of foreign artists, above all Matisse. “For decade upon decade he was described as not fitting in”, says Bernhard Grünewald.
The exhibition at Bukowskis presents approximately 30 unique works, among others his perhaps most well known self-portrait from 1918, a double portrait of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, both of whom he met during his stay in Paris, and the expressive The Flying Dutchman from 1916–18. Among the most original works here is a portrait suite he painted while in jail for his involvement in a brawl in Kungälv in 1926.
- Isaac Grünewald’s influence can hardly be overestimated. He was exceptionally receptive to the new currents from Europe, and his treatment of colour was second to none, including that of his lauded teacher Matisse. The new book offers new dimensions and introduces a new darkness to his artistic oeuvre, says Anna-Karin Pusic, head of the art department at Bukowskis.