Galleri Star

Peder Balke

Since Galleri Star first opened its doors in 2005, we have staged solo exhibitions of several internationally famed contemporary artists, including Joseph Beuys (2005), Louise Bourgeois (2006), Luc Tuymans (2008), Sally Mann (2010), Bernd and Hilla Becher (2012), and Rose Wylie (2015). In 2019, this sequence was broken when we exhibited for the first time in our “star gallery” art from an earlier generation – paintings by Frits Thaulow. This season we return again to the nineteenth century to show paintings by another luminary of Norwegian landscape painting, Peder Balke. Although both have been dead more than a century, they left enduring traces in Norwegian art history, upon which foundation today’s artists are continually building.


Peder Andersen Balke (1804–1887) was born on the island of Helgøya in Ringsaker, and began at an early age working as a local house painter and decorator, following in his grandfather’s footsteps. From 1829 to 1833 he studied art with C. J. Fahlcrantz at the Academy of Art in Stockholm, and in 1836 he embarked on the first of several trips he would make to Dresden to visit the painter J. C. Dahl, journeys that would come to have great significance for the emergence of his talent. Balke’s knowledge of decorative painting contributed to the development of the distinctive style for which he would later become well known. The characteristic rapid, flowing strokes, with dark colors on a light base, were achieved using a brush and sponge. The technique lends striking, almost expressive effects to his depictions of natural phenomena. In the 1860s, the high-water mark of his artistic career was reached in dramatic and visionary depictions of the landscape of Northern Norway.


In 2015, the National Gallery in London held a large solo exhibition of paintings by Balke, describing him as one of the most groundbreaking Scandinavian artists of the nineteenth century. Despite the beauty and expressivity of his coastal paintings, his name is still not widely known. He might be described as an early modernist, and as such it is understandable that his contemporary culture found it difficult to embrace the distinctive painting style and limited palette that typifies the sea and coastal motifs of his later period. Today, we are witnessing what would seem to be a European breakthrough for Balke, almost 140 years after his death. There is also renewed interest in his art in Norway, and we are delighted to be able to offer our visitors a taste of this artist’s majestic landscape paintings.