Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir: The reception of Finnur Jónsson’s expressionist paintings considering the writings of Alexander Jóhannesson’s on “New art movements”
The painting Die of Destiny by Finnur Jónsson from 1925 is considered a major work in the history of Icelandic modern art. Yet the painting was not fully recognized as art historically important until after it had been shown in Strasbourg in 1970. The history of the painting’s reception starts with an article written by Valtýr Stefánsson, editor of the newspaper Morgunblaðið, where he belittles the importance of Finnur Jónsson’s collaboration with Gallery Der Sturm in Berlin. Art historians have explained that Valtýr Stefánsson’s criticque and its impact on the work’s reception are directly linked to the fact that the Icelandic society didn’t have the prerequisite conditions to appreciate the artist’s paintings, and thus he decided not to continue on the path he had taken when he painted Die of Destiny. This article puts forward a theory that Stefánsson’s critic was in fact based on definite knowledge. The theory’s argument is founded on a published version of a lecture given by Alexander Jóhannesson in 1920 on “New Art Movements”, which influenced Finnur Jónsson.
Keywords: Painting, modern art, expressionism, art critic, intellectuals