Signed Torsten and dated 58. Canvas 97 x 139.5 cm.
“Only a fanatical style-devotee could overlook the way that the dominant styles of painting in the 1950s had begun to increasingly grow closer before finally, immediately prior to monochrome painting, coinciding. The step towards monochrome painting was inevitable. Behind this timeliness I traced a Darwinian theory of evolution, an evolution that in my case, in 1961, concluded with the white “Måsen”. “Måsen” was originally a piece of linen fabric, from which I cut a bird-like shape, then I sewed the shape on again, glued the canvas and finally painted everything in white. On the front of the canvas the seam is now visible as a line that takes shape then disappears, then takes shape again. In the moments when the line retreats a surface is created by the white colour. It was these two interpretations of “Måsen” that I uncovered in 1962 and presented separately in “Källan”. The upper painted part of “Källan” signifies a conscious reconquering of the approach that transforms the surface into a fictitious closed vacuum, an approach that is identical to the visual language of realism. The lower, separate black wooden panel is an elaboration on modern painting’s view of surface as surface and as open, spatial surface structure. The white “Måsen”, Sweden’s only monochrome painting, was exhibited in 1962 at Galleri Burén; no one saw it. Måsen was important to me, and that’s why I re-exhibited it in the same gallery in 1966; still no one saw it.
You have underestimated these images because you have underestimated my method of negation, the awareness and consistent loneliness of my struggle for a language. You have concealed and finally killed off the desire for overarching consequences and initiatives for global renewal.” Thus writes Torsten Andersson in the catalogue of Moderna Museet’s exhibition of his work in 1986-87.
Around 1960 many artists had begun turning their backs on painting and looked for other ways of expressing themselves. This was not the case for Andersson. He wanted to reclaim easel painting and to formulate his own visual language in order to find new ways of painting. It was during this period that the paintings “Måsen” (Malmö Konstmuseum) and “Källan” (Moderna Museet) came about. Today they are considered two of the most iconic works of Swedish postmodernism.
Andersson executed several versions of his “Måsen” motifs, through which he experimented with and moved toward monochrome painting. The piece in the auction was executed in 1958, a few years ahead of the painting in Moderna Museet.