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Birger Simonsson - A colorful modernist in his time F340

Birger Simonsson was born in Uddevalla in 1883. After his studies including Botanics, he decided in 1904 to become an artist and then began studying at Kristian Zahrtmann’s painting school in Copenhagen.

When Konstnärsförbundet (the Artists’ Association) opens their third school he starts there but is disappointed with it and heads to Paris, where he studies for Matisse 1908-1910. In the autumn of 1907, the group ”De Unga (the Young)” (men from 1909) is formed, which Simonsson joins. The year before this group of artists who studied in Paris for Matisse had gone home, among these were Isaac Grünewald, Tor Bjurström, Arthur Percy & Sigfrid Ullman, all members of ”De Unga”.

In the year 1909 the group did an epoch-making exhibition at Hallins konsthandel on Drottninggatan in Stockholm, an exhibition which is seen as the breakthrough of modernism in Sweden. ”De Unga” had a further two exhibitions in 1910 and 1911.

Between the years 1916-1919 Simonsson was a teacher at Valand in Gothenburg. After the First World War Simonsson spent long periods in Paris where he got inspired by Bonnard’s color art and the older, highly appreciated Renoir. The common anchoring in Bohuslän and a similar temper gave him a strong bond with the former teacher and later friend, Karl Nordström. In his painting, he worked both with a dark color scale in the beginning, which became lighter over the years. He is associated with Gothenburg and the close contact he also had with modern Norwegian painting. He painted portraits, figure compositions, and landscapes with motifs from the west coast, Norway, and France. Simonsson passed away in Stockholm in 1938.
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