Icelandic Art Today

New Book on 50 Icelandic Contemporary Artists

Icelandic Art Today is the first book of its kind to present in English a wide array of Icelandic contemporary artists born after 1950. Thirteen well known writers of various nationalities join hands in writing about 50 artists who have been prominent during the past decade or longer. Many of these artists have gained recognition outside Iceland, either in Europe or in the United States and some have chosen to stay abroad and try their luck in various centres of art although most of them maintain a contact with their country of origin.

Icelandic Art Today is 340 pages, lavishly illustrated with informative texts on each of the fifty artists and an extensive introduction to contemporary art in Iceland, which can be traced back to the late fifties and early sixties when a growing discontent with modernism and formalism was being felt by a generation of artists born in the twenties and the early thirties. With the advent of numerous artists born in the early 1940s Contemporary art became the dominant trait of Icelandic art in the late sixties and early seventies, paving the way for Conceptual and Minimal Art in the seventies and the eighties, before evolving along postmodernistic lines in the late eighties.

Despite its kinship with international trends and movements Icelandic art has a logic of its own, which is not easy to decipher although it is quite easy to detect. Compared with art from other Nordic countries Icelandic contemporary art is perhaps less sociological or psychological than either its Danish or Swedish counterparts and has less to do with the search and loss of identity, which often characterizes Norwegian and Finnish art.

If one is to sum up recent contemporary art in Iceland, which is not a rewarding task, it is rather based on a playful attitude towards tradition and the absurdity of being situated halfway between western culture and a striking nature, which is perfectly otherwise than anything found in the rest of Europe. Isolation, conditioned by a difficult notion of time and space, may be a common denominator of Icelandic contemporary art although Icelandic Art Today shows it to be anything but obvious.
The publication has been made possible thanks to significant contributions from several private persons and institutions, mainly from abroad. Without them, this big project could not have been realized in such difficult times. A well-known private foundation from New York supported the book with the biggest amount, but also Goethe-Institut and a German Bank (LBBW) as did the Icelandic company Viljandi and the Icelandic Trade Council.
Editors: Christian Schoen and Halldór Björn Runólfsson
May 2009, English
Hatje Cantz (Germany)
340 pages, 354 illustrations
€ 49,80
ISBN 978-3-7757-2295-7

ICELANDIC ART TODAY is published by the Center for Icelandic Art and the National Gallery of Iceland

The publication introduces 50 artists from Iceland including: Finnbogi Pétursson, Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, Helgi Þorgils Fríðjónsson, The Icelandic Love Corporation, Katrín Sigurðardóttir, Margrét H. Blöndal, Libia Castro + Ólafur Ólafsson, Ragnar Kjartansson, Rúrí, Steingrímur Eyfjörð.

Texts by: Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir, Christian Schoen, Eva Heisler, Gregory Volk, Ólafur Gíslason, Halldór Björn Runólfsson, Jón Proppé, Markús Þór Andrésson, Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir, Matthias Wagner K, Ragna Sigurðardóttir, Shauna Laurel Jones, Þóra Þórisdóttir.

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