Galleri Star

Anna-Eva Bergman


On display in Galleri Star, 7 May–25 Sep 2022 


Anna-Eva Bergman (1909–1987) was a pioneer in Norwegian painting and printmaking. Famed for her idiosyncratic visual language, colour palette, and groundbreaking choice of materials, she would both have a marked effect on her contemporaries and emerge as an inspiring figure for succeeding generations. She was born in Stockholm to a Swedish father and Norwegian mother, who, shortly after her birth, decided to divorce, upon which her mother took the child with her back to Norway. After completing her art education in Oslo, Bergman travelled in 1925 to Paris and met there the German-French artist Hans Hartung (1904–1989). The couple married in 1929, got divorced in 1939 – and finally remarried in 1957. Throughout her life, Bergman liked to live in both France and Norway. She died in Antibes in the south of France in 1987, where she and Hartung had made their home in a villa they had designed together. Today it houses the Fondation Hartung Bergman.

The Bergman works on show at Galleri Star come from a period stretching across four decades, from Komposisjon(1949), with its bright colours almost jumping off the surface, to Trait d’argent II (1986), in which a monochrome horizon directs the gaze towards a sun that is rising or setting. The exhibition introduces us to the art of Bergman just as she is about to abandon her figurative style for abstraction. As a vital part of this transition, she read about and studied the work of artists all the way back to the Renaissance; indeed, the principles of composition advanced in the Renaissance were soon to be seen in her large geometric shapes. 

In the works on display we can see how Bergman is adapting to movements and thoughts from the Continent, but also how she is refining a personal style and technique, drawing inspiration from the Norwegian landscape. This becomes especially evident in works post-1950, as it was in that year she travelled to North Norway and experienced for the first time its raw, pristine nature. It made an impression that would shape the rest of her career. Although this is an exhibition that reveals Bergman’s transition to abstract painting, we can still recognise in her extensive, abstract surfaces a reflection of nature. From the large geometric planes, her colouration, and the contrast between different materials and surfaces emerges a landscape that can be said to be both physical, mental, and emotional. 

For Bergman, abstraction was not merely a means by which she could approach the essence of her art; it was more that abstraction was a way of going beyond the canvas and embracing nature. This comes most clearly to the fore in those series of works inspired by her travels, and also in the way she sometimes applied paint with a palette knife in layers so thick they almost seem to crash like waves across the metal surfaces. Increasingly as her career progressed, we can see how even the smallest detail becomes important to Bergman as she integrates patterns and colours and surfaces with each other. She lets us see as much of her, and of what she has felt, as she did herself. 



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We are hugely grateful to Christen Sveaas Art Foundation for the loan of many of the principal works in the exhibition. Many thanks also go to Sparebankstiftelsen DNB, The Gundersen Collection, and other private collectors for the loan of their works. We are specially grateful for the support of Sparebanken Øst.




Installation Photography: Nina Ansten