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Rum för avsked: Begravningskapellets arkitektur och konstnärliga utsmyckning i 1900-talets Sverige
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Art History.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation focuses on a building for one sole purpose: burial services. The aim is to understand the funeral chapel in both functional and representational terms; to chart the course of the architecture and artistic decoration.

The presentation is chronologically structured into four periods. Parallel to this, there is a discussion regarding the consequences of studying such a wide selection of objects, with lesser-known objects presented side-by-side with prime examples of Swedish 20th-century art and architecture.

The funeral chapel and crematorium – a funeral chapel with technical apparatus for cremation – is an ecclesiastical building. Its construction has predominantly been commissioned by the Church of Sweden. The study takes its starting point in how the funeral has become a service in its own right: it has moved indoors from the cemetery to the church or to a funeral chapel, and has gone from being a community ritual to a private ceremony.

The prevalent funeral chapel at the beginning of the century can be characterized as a small country church, lending an authenticity of sorts to the new cemeteries. After 1930 the building of crematoriums entered an intensive phase. The Swedish Cremation Society persuaded the church to build crematoriums and produced guidelines regarding the modern crematorium with more than one chapel and a number of additional rooms for handling the dead body and the ashes. The layout can be seen as a way of promoting the benefits of cremation, but also demonstrates a commitment to make death lighter and cleaner. The crematoriums were often given a strictly modern appearance, the symbolism of the decoration made often reference to contemporary pastoral sceneries. From the 1950s the tendency was towards elementary shapes and sparsely decorated rooms using ancient church art as a model. In the last few decades, neutral representation has become the norm, making the funeral chapel accessible to different groups of society. Still almost 9 out of 10 funerals were conducted according to the canon law of the Church of Sweden. Simplicity in the realm of nature is a typical feature of the modern funeral chapel.

Contrary to the view of the century as denying death, one can argue that an added dignity was introduced to the burial service with the advent of the funeral chapel. With modernism as the vantage point, it has surely been difficult to relate questions of motif and content, and to the church as the commissioning party. The funeral chapel shows public and ecclesiastical art and architecture in a commonplace reality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Makadam förlag , 2005. , 472 p.
Keyword [en]
Art history, burial service, ecclesiastical architecture, mural painting, public art, secularization, Stockholm’s Woodland Cemetery, Swedish Cremation Society
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Art History
Research subject
History Of Art
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-4765ISBN: 91-7061-009-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-4765DiVA: diva2:165678
Public defence
2005-02-04, Auditorium minus, Gustavianum, Uppsala, 10:00
Available from: 2005-01-13 Created: 2005-01-13Bibliographically approved

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