BY: RAMONA DUOBA
“The trend today is for museums and galleries to feature artists that were formerly considered “obscure” and are now recognized as discoveries. In addition, both cultures and races are being explored for the value of their artistic heritage,” said Keith de Lellis. “We have been at the forefront of this movement and were early in the game to embrace art outside the mainstream that had primarily recognized and valued artists who have in my opinion been overexposed at the expense of the lesser-known but no less gifted talents.”
The Keith de Lellis Gallery in New York City presents Swedish Modern, a selection from mid-century Swedish photographers whose innovative work has remained relatively unfamiliar to the American public. “The world has become a more global community in recent years, so it is not surprising that artists have become famous in their own culture without making the leap to becoming internationally famous in the mid-20th century,” said de Lellis. “It is the rare exception where artists have made that leap, and it is only due to publications and museums that these artists have found notoriety outside their own insulated society.”
These artists were part of TIO (a Swedish word for “ten”), a collective of Swedish photographers established in 1958. From nature and industrial scenes to abstraction and fashion, Swedish Modern captures the broad range of creative styles and interests present in mid-century Swedish artists’ minds. The subject matter among these photographers is united by a shared inquiry of the camera’s capability.
The exhibition includes Lennart Olson’s Project for a Mural1960 is a modernist triptych of bridge architecture printed in high contrast and highlights the amoeba-shaped structure in all its glory. This trio of abstract images was first exhibited in New York in a 1960 exhibition, The Sense of Abstraction, at the Museum of Modern Art. The legendary curator, Edward Steichen, described the image as “visual interpretations of space, depth, boundlessness.” Sven-Gösta Johansson and Rolf Winquist said de Lellis “were both masters of capturing the female figure and visage with unrivaled acuity.” More than half a century later, their modern approach is still fresh and timeless. Sven Gillsater’s pictures of walruses and polar bears in the wild “are a reminder of the perils of global warming and the beauty of nature that is today threatened by humankind’s shortsighted policies that risk destroying the wonders of the natural world,” said de Lellis.
The work of TIO’s founding members was first brought to the American public in 1971 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., titled Contemporary Photographs from Sweden. Swedish Modern at Keith de Lellis Gallery is the first show in America in over 50 years to exhibit the work by members of the collective.
This exhibition features the work of Sten Didrik Bellander, Harry Dittmer, Sven Gillsäter, Hans Hammarskiöld, Sven-Gösta Johansson, Sune Jonsson, Berndt Klyvare, Kary H. Lasch, Pål-Nils Nilsson, Georg Oddner, Lennart Olson, Anna Riwkin and Rolf Winquist.
Swedish Modern is on view at the Keith de Lellis Gallery in NYC through March 11, 2022.