New book about Urban Larsson
In 2017 two retrospective exhibitions of Urban Larsson’s paintings will take place in Sweden and subsequently in the Netherlands: from February 18 to April 16 at the Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum in Stockholm, and from April 25 to June 18 at De Mesdag Collectie in The Hague. An eponymous publication, published by Lecturis, will be presented with these exhibitions, titled Urban Larsson - Painting from Life.
The preface of the catalogue is written by Axel Rüger, (director of the Van Gogh Museum and De Mesdag Collectie), and Elsebeth Welander-Berggren (director of the Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum). The essay on Larsson's portraits is written by Sabine Craft-Giepmans (Head of the ‘Fine Arts until 1750’ department at the RKD-Dutch Institute for Art History in The Hague). Edwin Becker (chief Curator of Exhibitions at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) has conducted an interview with the artist. The catalogue comprises images of the paintings that can be seen at both exhibitions as well as a selection of paintings that have been made recently. In addition to the still-lives and landscapes there are, for instance, two full-length portraits, of H.M. King Willem-Alexander and H.M. Queen Maxima, commissioned by Sociëteit de Witte in The Hague and the portrait of H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, commissioned by the National Museum in Stockholm. The catalogue has been compiled by Wendela Burgemeister (art historian).
The catalogue will be offered for sale at the Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum and at De Mesdag Collectie. It will further be for sale online, in bookstores and at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Title: Urban Larsson - Painting from Life
Dimensions book: 240 x 290 mm
Circa 112 pages, excluding cover
Text in English
Retail price: € 22,50
Urban Larsson has featured in many magazine and newspaper artictles and, to date, three books about his work have been published. The first title Urban Larsson: Paintings 1991-2006 (Waanders Publishers, 2008) has sold out and can only be acquired through antiquarian booksellers.
The second title is still available new:
Urban Larsson: Paintings & Drawings. Publisher, Bekking & Blitz, 2010. Length, 160 pages, more than 150 color illustrations.
Foreword from the earlier book
“Urban Larsson Paintings 1991-2006”
“We have had a gutful of fast art and food. What we need more of is slow art: art that holds time as a vase holds water: art that grows out of modes of perception and making whose skill and doggedness make you think and feel; art that isn’t merely sensational that doesn’t get its message across in 10 seconds, that isn’t falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep-running in our natures.” (Extract from art critic Robert Hughes’ speech at a Royal Academy dinner in 2004)
In our times of constantly changing new fast techniques and engaging digital visual explosion it is obviously anachronistic to engage in the slow and painstaking process of making oil paintings which are trying to be subtle, silent and inspire reflection. But maybe just because of this anachronism it is important and meaningful.
Many people ask me to give the paintings I do a name or style. In our world where art has no boundaries and there are more “isms” than painters, one way of describing it is “Traditional realism”. “Traditional realism” is not a realism which is self-taught, nor does it originate from modern art, and nor is it based on photographs. The basis of it is the visual study of nature, the visual language and techniques from artists of earlier centuries, and the concept of beauty. This might seem constraining, but as history has shown, the personal interpretation of this “grammar” by the artist and his own expression, makes it quite the opposite.
Andy Warhol, an icon of the post war art scene, once said “The course of art history would be changed if one thousand students could be taught Old Master drawing and painting techniques.” A wish from an ever growing international number of young artists over the last 20 years to learn how to paint in a traditional manner has resulted in a movement of professional artists reviving the techniques and visual language of painters from earlier centuries, reintroducing the concept of beauty and creating works of art which are visually and spiritually enriching.
It is a quiet group, working out of the limelight of the mainstream cultural institutions. Their increasing success and praise from the public are not measured by shock, controversy or hype, but rather through the silences and reflection their art inspires, and their increasing exposure at important galleries and museums worldwide. The course of art history has not of course been changed, but the art scene today is definitely broadening its horizons. We are still out of the mainstream, but I guess this book is one of the examples of how things have changed during the last couple of years.”