Art at the Reykjavík Art Museum

Kjarval’s portrait of Erró, 1948

Jóhannes Kjarval self-portrait

In Kjarvalsstaðir, the Reykjavík Art Museum is now showing the exhibition ‘Heads from Clouds — The Portraits of Jóhannes S. Kjarval’. The painter Kjarval is one of the nation’s greatest and most beloved artists. His paintings and his interpretation of Iceland’s nature have shaped our view of nature, and he takes a major place in the cultural and art history of Iceland.

Kjarval began his career as a painter by making portraits of four CEOs of Landsbanki Íslands. ‘Drawings of  Icelandic People’ from 1926 to 1930, however, were a watershed in his career. He won the minds and hearts of the people, and some of these pictures were purchased, his first for the National Art Museum. Throughout his career, he was sketching, drawing and painting portraits, and over time they become a kind of extension of his view of the natural world. Finally, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, Halldór Kiljan Laxness, in his first art commentary in 1927, says about Kjarval’s portraits of people from the previous year, “The working methods in
the portraits … certify the understanding of a highly educated artist of Icelandic nature”. At this retrospective, ‘Heads from Clouds’, the first to be dedicated only to Kjarval’s portraits of people, one of the main characteristics of Kjarval’s portraits is that they are about people rather than the images. The curator of the exhibition is  Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson. The exhibition is open until 18th September.

Kjarval exhibition at Kjarvalsstaðir

Kjarval, The Sisters from Stapi, 1948

Erró exhibition

One of our greatest artists is Guðmundur Guðmundsson, born in 1932, and known as the artist Erro. ‘Explosive power of images’, the Erro exhibition that is currently in the Reykjavík Art Museum, and lasts until early  september, is the largest and most complete review of the career of this colourful artist, who lived and worked in Paris for more than half a century.He is one of the few Icelandic artists who have gained a foothold in the world of international art. 33 years ago there was great news in Icelandic cultural life, when Erro gave the City of Reykjavik 2,000 works of art. In 2000, 22 years ago, the artist’s gift was found a place in the Reykjavík Art Museum, Hafnarhús. The Erro Museum has grown steadily and now counts about 4,000 works, paintings, watercolours, graphics, sculptures, collages and other works of art that span the artist’s career for a full 70 years. The curators of the exhibition are Danielle Kvaran and Gunnar B Kvaran. But more than 300 works by Guðmundur Guðmundsson, world—renowned as Erro are in the exhibition.

Reykjavík Art Museum

Erró exhibition


Ásmundarsafn in Laugardalur is part of the Reyk javík Art Museum. The museum is dedicated to the works of sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) and was opened in 1983, in a single house that the artist designed both as a home and studio, and built between the years 1942-1959. The garden around the house is unique, with numerous sculptures by this pioneering sculptor in Iceland. The exhibition in the museum this summer is called, ‘Rósa Gísladóttir, Ásmundur Sveinsson: ‘Spatial Infractions’. There, sculptors meet two hours in conversation. Rósa (1959) has in her career as a sculptor worked with various materials, but she is best known for plaster sculptures in different shapes and sizes. The exhibition runs until August 7.

Inside of Ásmundarsafn

Ásmundarsafn has a great garden full of artworks.

Text and photo: Páll Stefánsson