Open Forms of Olle Baertling

After discovering the art of Swedish modernist Olle Baertling (1911-1981), I was surprised to learn that his incredible work was relatively unknown in the U.S., even though he exhibited widely here during the 60's and 70's. Baertling, whose earlier work was representational, committed himself to abstraction in the early 1950's. It was during this time that he began to experiment with various styles in order to find his own voice. Wanting to add more movement and dynamism to his work, in 1953-54 he began to integrate strong diagonal lines and triangular shapes to his paintings, which he referred to as "open forms." It was the combination of these "open forms" with bold synthetic colors that eventually became Baertling's "language."

 Iru, 1958, oil on canvas. Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo, Norway

Vebamak, 1964-74, serigraph. Stockholms Auktionsverk

Provex, c. 1953, serigraph. Bukowskis

 Bipax, serigraph. Bukowskis

 Geometric composition, 1965-68, serigraph. Bukowskis

Composition, 1952-68, serigraph. Bukowskis

 Ogri, 1959, serigraph. Stockholms Auktionsverk

 Vebama, 1981, serigraph. Bukowskis

 Composition, 1965, serigraph. Bukowskis

 Xa, 1967, serigraph. Stockholms Auktionsverk

Composition in blue and black, 1950-68, serigraph. Bukowskis

Delaumbre Bleue, 1950, oil on canvas. Stockholms Auktionsverk (Herbin's influence is obvious here)

Geometric motifs, blue and black, 1954-68, serigraph. Bukowskis

The below images are from a Baertling Exhibition at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, TX.

Baertling paintings in the Erling Neby collection

Baertling working as a banker. Photo via Moderna Museet, Sweden

Olle Baertling (1911-1981). photo via Milan Dobes Museum

Key Information:
Artist: Olle Baertling
Nationality: Swedish
Birth: Halmstad, Sweden, December 6, 1911
Death: Stockholm, Sweden, May 2, 1981
Education: Olle was trained and worked as a banker until 1956. He was largely a self-taught artist, though he did study with Fernand Léger and Auguste Herbin.
Influences: Piet Mondrian, André Lhote, Victor Vasarely, Malevich, Auguste Herbin

I usually would place general points of interest here, but found Baertling's writings much more interesting. The following are a few of my favorite Baertling passages; read these and others in their entirety here.
  • Non-figurative art is the manifestation of the creative power of abstract man.
  • There will always be tension and opposition between the emotional and the aesthetic.
  • My art combines form and content... One form elicits another, one color exists as a function of other colors. A line is not just a line, but it determines a new form which participates in the expression of the whole, requiring a series of answers...
  • My art is an organization to which one can neither add nor subtract without impairing the expression of the work.
  • Pitifully, little attention has been paid to the enriching quality of advanced art in architecture.
  • The cities of the future will be constructed out of new forms.  A more dynamic, artistically more intense architecture will replace the traditional patterns.  Powerful diagonals will thrust their way upwards, thrilling perspectives will confront the man on the street, pyramids balancing on their apexes, with magnificent terraces on their roofs, triangular creations of extreme and exciting form thrusting to the heavens.
  • It is our concept of mankind and life that we must change, if we are going to achieve anything better and more worthwhile.
Related Links:
Go to- Olle Baertling Foundation website. 
Go to- Milan Dobes Museum, Baertling Exhibition page (the source of the above passages)
Go to- The Chinati Foundation, Baertling Exhibition page for description of Olle's work and a brief biography.
Go to- Moderna Museet, Sweden, Baertling Exhibition page. Chronology of his career/life

No comments: