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New season – New highlights: masterpiece by Otto G. Carlsund


Otto G. Carlsund Lokomobilen (La machine à vapeur)



Because it was expensive to live in Paris, Carlsund regularly went down to his grandmother in the village of Le Mayet-d’École in the Vichy area in France, where he also had a large part of his family on his mother’s side. Here Carlsund had set up his studio in one of the farmhouses where he could devote himself to painting. During one of these stays, Carlsund painted ‘Lokomobilen’, a true masterpiece and an icon in Swedish modernism.


“This is one of Carlsund’s many stylistic hybridizations of different isms. Here is Carpaccio’s renaissance style, crossed with Léger’s ‘tubism’. The two trees and the farmer in a straw hat are taken from the famous Italian, the assembly of circles and polished cylindrical shapes – and the three smoke puffs - characteristic compositional elements of Léger. The sublimated scenery is as follows: From the right comes the farmer with a loaded wheelbarrow and shovel. The steam engine’s power is transmitted by the drive wheel to the unit to the left outside the picture. The large lag vessel in the centre speaks for a winepress. As the photo shows from the hanging of Léger’s and the four Scandinavian students’ painting in October 1924 at Maison Watteau, Carlsund’s locomotive came to occupy a prominent place on the expo.” (Oscar Reutersvärd, Otto G. Carlsund - In remote perspective, Kaleidoscope publisher, 1988, page 22).



Anders Wahlgren has chosen Lokomobilen as the cover of his new book about Carlsund and writes the following about the work: “The locomotive that Carlsund painted in Mayet was a tribute to the machine and perhaps to the relative Otto Edvard, who designed steam locomotives at Motala workshops. The shiny shape of the steam boiler, valves and pistons. Everything painted with a precision that came to be characteristic of Carlsund. Here he got a full outlet for his machine worship in a motif that provided great opportunities to refine the geometric shapes. From Léger, he had been taught to produce details in the machines and place shiny objects against the carpet, in the axles and gears. Even the man guarding the locomotive has a hat whose shape becomes central in the painting, like the wine barrel. He provides the black barrel with his signature OC. It will be an important graphic accent and part of the composition. ” (Anders Wahlgren, Otto Carlsund, Carlsson's book publisher, 2021, pages 74 - 75).
Erik Olson, Franciska Clausen, Fernand Leger and Otto G Carlsund in Maison Watteau, Paris, 1924.


Anders Wahlgren was the exhibition commissioner for the exhibition about Otto G Carlsund at Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm in 2007 when Lokomobilen was the work that visitors were met by in the form of a monumental banner on one of the outdoor walls at the entrance.
The work has never been for sale and has been owned by the same family since the 1920s.


To be sold at Modern Art Sale November 18.

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Andreas Rydén
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