Heroic Ballads and National Romanticism

The Faroe Islands are known for their ancient heroic bal­lads, still preserved in the Faroe chain dance, which is of South European origin but can now only be found in the Faroes. Modern Faroe literature arose towards the end of the 19. century. A national movement for the advancement of Faroe causes gave the language and culture top prior­ity. Budding lyric poetry praised the mother country, its history and the ballads which had maintained the language, while the written lan­guage after the Reformation had been Danish. Among the poets were Fríðrik Petersen (1856— 1916), Rasmus Effersøe (1857— 1916) and Joannes Patursson (1866-1946), all of whom were also in the front rank of politics. Effersøe also wrote some of the first plays, an important part of the national movement.

Modem Lyric Poetry.

The gifted poetic Djurhuus broth­ers exerted the most influence in the first half of the 20. century. Janus Djurhuus (1881-1948) was educated in the classics, translated Elomer and renewed Faroe lyric poetry with European metre. His symbolistic poems, which strike a tragic keynote, attained new heights in linguistic sonority and dignity. Hans Andrias Djurhuus (1883—1951) wrote poetry describing daily life as well as historic, religious and political subjects. Musicality, linguistic agility and grace made him influential above all others. The Djurhuus brothers formed powerful ideals, and their successors, Chr. Matras (1900- 1988), Karsten Hoydal (1912— 1990) and Regin Dahl, (1918) have praised them in their poetry. But they used the ideal to find their own independent artistic style in tune with their own time, and in the process they all improve upon Faroe modernism.

A modernist lyrical poetry broke through in the 1960s with Rói Patursson (born 1947), Guðrið Helmsdal (bornl94l), etc. Among the lyrical poets of our time one may mention Carl Johan Jensen, Tóroddur Poulsen and Jóanes Nielsen.


The first novel, Bábelstornið (The Tower of Babel), 1909, by Regin í Líð, is a family novel which fol­lows three generations to the con­temporary political struggle. The first great generation of novelists is made up of Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen (1900—1938), William Heinesen (1900—1991), Heðin Brú (1901 — 1987) and Martin Joensen (1902—1966). The two first mentioned wrote in the old written language of the Faroes, which was Danish, and their works make up the best of Faroe poetry in the Danish language. In the succeeding generation Jens Pauli Heinesen (1932) is the main name. Influenced by his child­hood during WW II he depicts Faroe society and the artist’s role in it. The most recent decades have seen significant authors of realistic and modernist prose: Hanus Kamban, Gunnar Hoydal, Ebba Hentze, Oddvør Johansen, Marianna D. Dahl, Bergtóra Hanusardóttir, Vida Højgaard, Lydia Didriksen and Marjun Kjelnæs. Jógvan Isaksen has writ­ten popular crime thrillers. Of child literature there are both poetry and prose. Among the above mentioned present day lyri­cists Tóroddur Poulsen has written experimental prose, Jóanes Nielsen social criticism in novel form and a youth novel on the 1960s. Carl Jóhan Jensen has writ­ten experimental novels, of which the most recent one excels through a so far unseen elaborateness and complexity.

Visual Art

Sámal Joensen Mikines (1906—79) is the founder of Faroe pictorial art and one of its greatest names. With his epic-dramatic works from the 1930s with Faroe motifs he inspired a new generation of artists. The main name among his successors is the painter Ingálvur av Reyni (1920—2005). In his works he develops through abstract painting to concretism, where strokes and colours live their own sturdy existence. The painting is still the most used form of Faroe pictorial art, but the diversity of forms grows.

The first great name in the art of sculpture is Janus Kamban, (born 1913), whose works radiate clarity and emphasize the bold curves. Elinborg Lützen (1919— 1995) was an outstanding graphics artist, whose main theme is fairy tales and myths. William Fleinesen is also one of the most important pictorial artists, in particular through the paper cuts he created in his old age. Textile and photo­graphic art, ceramics are more recent. The ceramic artist Guðrið Poulsen (born 1961) is inspired by nature, but keeps free to create her motifs out of her models.

Nature has been the dominant point of departure and subject matter in Faroe pictorial art. In more or less stylised form its con­tours can be detected also in the works of the abstract artists. The visual artists of our time reach out and are influenced by the same currents as artists in other countries. But the Faroe land­scape and playing light are still a characteristic of much of our con­temporary art. Important names are i.a. Zacharias Heinesen, Bárður Jákupsson, Eyðun av Reyni, Amariel Norðoy, Torbjørn Olsen, Marius Olsen, Hans Pauli Olsen, Hansina Iversen, Rannvá Kunoy, Jóna Rasmussen og Astri Luihn.

As the literature has deep roots in popular poetry, so visual art stems from a tradition of crafts, whose masterpiece is the Faroe rowing boat. Today foreign influ­ences are strong at the same time as Faroe characteristics shine through in the pictorial and poet­ic arts which awakens interest far beyond the Faroe Islands.

The Faroe Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum of the Faroes collects, conserves and exhibits artifacts which describe the country’s nature. The Museum is divided into three sections, the Departments of Zoology, Botany and Geology. The Museum advises on the sustainable utilization of marine mammals around Faroe, landscape care and protection gener­ally, and – in particular around Vágar Airport – vermin extermina­tion and control of the importation of alien animals. The Museum also administers the CITES-permits, dis­pensation from the hunting laws and ring-marking activities and han­dles the use of a Heligoland Trap for the research of migratory birds and their appearances. A status report on bio-diversity is under publication. The research staff of the Museum take part in several international projects on subjects such as the impact of climate and climatic change on flora, fauna and vegeta­tion zones, on the extension of marine and terrestric plants, on ecology and biology.