Ágústmyndir September- manna

Works from the collection of Bragi Guðlaugsson

The present exhibition features a selection of paintings from the collection of well-known art enthusiast Bragi Guðlaugsson. The paintings have been especially chosen to document the state of Icelandic art during World War 2, when the country was occupied by the British, and later the Americans, thus cutting it off from artistic developments in Europe and America for a period of five years. During this „waiting period“, young artists looked mostly to two artists, Þorvaldur Skúlason and Nína Tryggvadóttir, who were virtually the only ones who had experienced European Modernism of the pre-war years through their stay in France, Italy and Denmark. Their younger colleagues would also endeavour to build on the Nordic expressionism practiced by artists of the Twenties and Thirties, when the urban environment began to play a greater part than the landscape celebrated by the early pioneers of painting. All the while the young generation of artists was aware of the tantalizing phenomenon called „abstraction“, while realizing that it would be fiercely resisted by conservative cultural arbiters in Iceland. Not until May 1945 did the floodgates open, and Icelandic art was never the same. All of the artists present in this show would go on to other things, notably to geometric abstraction and abstract expressionism. But their early work preserves something of their youthful fervour and optimism.

Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson