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Vigselrummet i Stockholms rådhus och det tidiga 1900-talets monumentalmåleri: Historia, reception, historiografi
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Art History.
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The competitions for the commission to decorate the Marriage Chamber in Stockholm City Law Courts (1912–1915) have become one of the most important events in the history of mural painting in Sweden. One of the proposals, by artist Isaac Grünewald, has become a major icon of early modernistic art in Sweden. Among the participants in the competition we find some of the most important introducers of fauvism (Grünewald) and cubism (Georg Pauli) into Swedish art. None of the participating artists received the commission, however. Instead, the architect Carl Westman executed a sketch that was painted by Filip Månsson’s decorative firm in the autumn of 1915. A fundamental question in the study is why the proposal by Grünewald, rather than the winning proposal by Pauli or the actual painting, has become an icon in Swedish art history. By posing this question, the study allows for a broad analysis of the history of early 20th century public art in Sweden and also for a critique of the established art historical writing. At the same time, the dissertation is also a detailed study of networks, individual artists’ “repositionings” on the Swedish art scene, art critical discussions and institutional relations during the period 1912–1915. It is also a detailed study of the construction of the narrative concerning this situation. The purpose of the dissertation is to describe the diversity of artistic expressions in the early 20th century public art in Sweden, and to explain the formation and institutionalisation of the story of the Marriage Chamber. This dual purpose is indicated in the dissertation by its two separate parts, “Situation” and “Narration”.

In part I, “Situation”, the complexity of the historical situation connected to the decoration of the Marriage Chamber is analyzed and described. The purpose is to demonstrate the complexity of the situation from which the established story has been constructed. In part II, “Narration”, the formation and institutionalisation of the narrative concerning the Marriage Chamber are analyzed. The purpose is to point at key texts, persons, institutions and exhibitions and at the primary material, which has contributed, to the narrative of the Marriage Chamber. The narrative structure is analyzed with the purpose of constructing underlying explanatory models.

The dissertation shows that the established historiography of mural painting in Sweden is based on a selection with modernism as the aesthetic norm. Works of art made by artists who had direct contact with and were inspired by the Parisian avant-garde have been put forward as milestones in the Swedish art history. This simplistic and biased narration has not only resulted in an specific selection, where never actualized proposals for wall paintings have filled the gaps in the narration, but also ignored certain aspects of the proposals for the decoration of the Marriage Chamber. In the thesis, an interpretation of Grünewald’s proposal as both connecting to French fauvism and to regional decoration tradition is introduced as an example of the need for a more diversified art historical writing on early 20th century mural painting in Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2010. , 511 p.
Ars Suetica: skrifter, ISSN 0066-7919 ; 22
Keyword [en]
art criticism, decorative painting, early 20th century, historiography, institutionalisation, the Marriage Chamber in the Stockholm City Law Courts, mural painting, the Museum of Sketches, modernism, nationalism, ornament, public art.
National Category
Art History
Research subject
History of Art
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-130129ISBN: 978-91-554-7872-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-130129DiVA: diva2:346625
Public defence
2010-10-29, Geijersalen, Engelska parken – Humanistiskt centrum, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-09-29 Created: 2010-09-01 Last updated: 2011-01-12

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