Welcome to Björn Springfeldt’s collection!

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“When I wake up and walk through the rooms, I say hello to Andreas, Ebba, Astrid, Roland and all the others and it makes me happy!”

Desire and wonder, playfulness and beauty are his driving forces. Today, at the age of 75, he is still bursting with enthusiasm for the capacity of art to irritate, touch, flow into the consciousness and make thoughts change direction. His attitude: “Let everyone experience how much fun it is to live close to art – the artist deserves it”, means that he thinks opening the doors of his home is the obvious thing to do. Welcome to Björn Springfeldt’s collection!

Interview Paulina Sokolow
Photo Patrick Miller

About Björn Springfeldt

He started as an assistant at Moderna Museet in July 1968 and worked there for a total of 24 years, the last six as head of the museum. The legacy following Pontus Hultén’s legendary rule tends to overshadow the decades that followed, and piloting the museum through the financially tough years of the 1990s and in the midst of the eruption of post-modernism cannot have been the easiest of tasks.

However, Björn Springfeldt’s work at the museum goes anything but unnoticed. Those of us fortunate enough to experience the major retrospective with Gerhard Richter and Irving Penn, which concluded with a legendary donation to the museum, will never forget it. He was also one of the foremost lobbyists behind the vital question of whether to give one of the finest collections in the world a proper museum building of its own.

As to Gerhard Richter, with the help of the Friends of Moderna Museet Björn Springfeldt bought the glorious Bach suite of four large format paintings for what was then the shocking amount of 4.5 million Swedish kronor. Today it is valued at a billion. Björn Springfeldt later became cultural attaché at the Swedish embassy in Germany. Now once more his own man, in the past ten years he has acted as an advisor for local government and private collectors. Since leaving Moderna Museet he has also built up his own collection, mainly focussing on Swedish and Nordic contemporary art. It is a collection that has also attracted attention around the world and has been visited by the heads of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and most recently the friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

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Roland Persson, Flowers, 2002

Silicone, the flexible and most body-like material, is used in a masterly fashion by Roland Persson to cast everything from flowers to an elephant, all on a scale of 1:1. Now he has cast about 40 000 clerical collars, the symbol of loves me, loves me not. “The first time I stepped into Roland Persson’s studio, it overturned everything I thought I knew about art. It was one of the rare moments when uncertainty becomes total and everything feels new, as if I had been given a threat and a gift at the same time”.

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Frida Fjellman f. 1971 Malte, 2009

I en häpnadsväckande realistisk modellering ligger han och vaktar badkaret. Keramik har följt människan sedan urtiden, men alltför länge setts över axeln som material för konst. Idag har konstnärerna brutit med denna slentrianmässiga syn. Malte utstrålar värdighet och en sorgsen visdom.

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Jesper Nyrén, Åkrar och ängar (Fields and meadows), , 2007

The painting was completed in Jesper Nyrén’s last year at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art and depicts the view from his professor Ann Edholm’s guest room in Lid, seen through a prism and painted with Barbro Östlihn as a role model. “Look at the shading from one colour to the next, from dark to light, it’s such masterly painting!”

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Andreas Eriksson, Vik (Bay.), 2015

Björn has followed Andreas Eriksson since he graduated from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and calls him, without so much as a tremor of his vocal chords, a genius. He resisted the then post-modernist norm by holding firmly to a personal style of painting. He chooses his technique completely freely depending on what he wants to explore and express. Oil on canvas, pottery, bronze, plaster, etchings, porcelain, weaving, photography. He is now appreciated around the world as few Swedish artists are. “Andreas’ painting is as beautiful and as much his own as Johannes Kjarval’s.”

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Dan Wolgers, En mycket svår lampa att tända (A very hard lamp to light), 1994

The chance of lighting this lamp, with 100 fittings, one whole lamp, one plug in the wall, and a paid electricity bill is 1 to a number with 30 zeros. “Hard to fathom? Well think about it as one chance against the weight of the sun in kilos. Try it! Typical Danny Wolgers...”

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Astrid Sylwan, Walk Me from Yellow to Dark, 2001—2005

“I sought out Astrid Sylwan at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, after having seen her debut exhibition in Haninge Konsthall and falling for it hard. She was standing in a small room painting this masterpiece, completely bullied for sticking with something as reactionary as painting. It is a privilege to be able to live with a work like this. I have looked at it thousands of times!”

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Märit Runsten, Meat Monument, 2008

Märit Runsten completed the textiles course at Konstfack, less out of an interest in textiles than because it is the most feminine of all forms of expression. Her photographs, incomprehensibly detailed drawings and textile sculptures problematise femininity, sexuality, the body and vulnerability in fascinating puzzles. This piece in particular is also said to contain her own hair.