November 2, 2015 - National Museum of Norway - Anna-Eva Bergman
November 2, 2015

Anna-Eva Bergman

Anna-Eva Bergman, G 34-1976 Earth and Planet, 1976, aquatinte. Photo: Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo. © Anna-Eva Bergman / BONO.

Anna-Eva Bergman
A Graphic Universe

November 13, 2015–February 28, 2016 
Opening: November 12, 6:30pm

National Museum of Norway
The Museum of Contemporary Art
Bankplassen 4
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 11–5pm,
Thursday 11–7pm, Saturday–Sunday 12–5pm

The rhythms, planes, fields and volumes of Anna-Eva Bergman’s art are inspired by nature. Her simple, geometric and natural forms conjure up a sense of the poetical and the spiritual. This exhibition has been set up according to Bergman’s own categorization in her notes “Les Thèmes.”

Magic light
Bergman used metal foils to create an illusion of light in her prints and paintings. By glazing the surfaces at various levels and using a palette knife to scrape the surface, she produced vivid effects of depth and relief. She also polished the foils in order to make the pictures flicker with a “magic” light.

Traces of Norway
Even though the Norwegian artist Anna-Eva Bergman (1909–87) spent most of her life in France, Norway played an important role in her art. Impressions from two journeys to Northern Norway in the summers of 1950 and 1964 had a lasting influence on her prints and paintings. From the deck of the Hurtigruten coastal steamer, she observed the rugged Northern Norwegian nature and its deep fjords, steep mountains, vast ocean waters, midnight sun and endless horizon. She became particularly fascinated by the Arctic light.

International artist
Anna-Eva Bergman met Hans Hartung in Paris during spring 1929, when she studied at the academy of the painter André Lhote. The couple married in the autumn of the same year. During the interwar period, Bergman and her husband kept company with the avant-garde artists Joan Miró, Vasilij Kandinskij and Piet Mondrian in Paris. After the war, they were part of the Parisian art scene with artist friends such as Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Alexander Calder and Pierre Soulages. 

Bergman exhibited in Europe and participated in major group exhibitions worldwide. Her first major solo exhibition in Norway took place in 1979 at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter outside of Oslo.

Towards abstraction
Bergman’s art underwent a transformation in the early 1950s, as her pictures became more abstract. She cultivated a formal idiom that focused on a handful of archetypal motifs she dubbed “Les Thèmes” (The Themes): rocks, celestial bodies, mountains, fjords, horizons and boats.

Behind every picture lay exact calculations and pictorial constructions, and her imagery developed almost scientifically. She reduced the forms, employed geometric shapes, and repeated her preferred motifs with different variations. Underlying the compositions is an understanding of the golden ratio as a principle of construction, which she used to support a universal validity and an expression of harmony and stability.

From the initial lithographs in 1952 and until her death in 1987, Bergman worked with a variety of intaglio, relief, and planographic techniques. Much of her graphic output consists of woodcuts and lithographs, but she also worked with etching, copperplate, drypoint, and aquatint techniques. She repeated the archetypical forms of “Les Thèmes” again and again in both paintings and prints. Her explorations of printing techniques and their diverse styles, as well as her interest in the materials, techniques, and textures of the various surfaces, are modernist features of Bergman’s artistic career.

The gift from Antibes
The Fondation Hartung-Bergman in Antibes has donated 154 graphic works by Anna-Eva Bergman to the National Museum.

In collaboration with The Hartung-Bergman Fondation, the National Museum will publish a catalogue raisonné of Bergman’s graphic production.


Anna-Eva Bergman at National Museum of Norway
National Museum of Norway
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