296 pp., 24 ~ 28 cm
249 ills. in colour and b/w
€ 48 [D]
ISBN 978-3-89790-517-7

ARNOLDSCHE Art Publishers
Liststraße 9, D–70180 Stuttgart
+49 (0)711 64 56 18–14


-Norwegian Pioneer of Modernism

Jan Kokkin

Gerhard Munthe (1849–1929) is one of the most signifi cant artists of the Art Nouveau period. His radical, abstract style, which draws on old Norwegian folk art as well as the Japonism and Symbolism of his day, is now considered a pioneer of twentieth-century modernism.
Although Gerhard Munthe was known in particular as a landscape painter, his most important contributions are in the decorative arts. He became one of Norway's first industrial designers. In 1891–93 he searched for Norwegian alternatives to the numerous foreign imports with his first patterns for tapestries, wallpapers, porcelain and graphic design, later expanding his repertoire with furniture, silver-ware, book bindings, illustrations and written works.
Munthe’s greatest effort, however, are his interiors. The Fairy-Tale Room in the Holmenkollen Tourist Hotel in Oslo (1896–98) and the medieval hall H.konshallen in Bergen (1910–15), which was destroyed in an explosion at Bergen's harbour in 1944, are particularly signifi cant in this context. An entire chapter, featuring many designs, sketches and photographs, is devoted to this medieval hall.
Munthe also created decorations for exhibition rooms at Kunstindustrimuseet in Oslo (1902–04) as well as many public buildings and private houses. Alongside paintings, he designed furniture, dados, doors and other decorative objects, and in doing so realised his vision of a synthesis of different art forms (Gesamtkunstwerk).
A series of Munthe’s watercolours from 1892–93 based on the old Norwegian ballads and Nordic mythology led to a revival of arts and crafts in northern Europe, especially in weaving. His artistic vignettes and illustrations – for Heimskringla (1896–99), a medieval work written by Snorri Sturluson on the history of the Norwegian kings – have infl uenced a legion of European artists.
With large-format illustrations and a fascinating wellfounded text, the fi rst comprehensive monograph on Gerhard Munthe provides a broad overview of the multifaceted and infl uential work of the renownedNorwegian artist and designer.

JAN KOKKIN is former director of Kunst på Arbeidsplassen [Art in the workplace] and art critic for the Norwegian newspapers Dagens Næringsliv and Morgenbladet. He has published biographies and books on several Norwegian nineteenth-century artists and is currently working as freelance curator, author and lecturer.

GERHARD MUNTHE was born the son of a physicist on 19 July 1849 in Skanshagen. From 1870 he studied at the J.F. Eckersberg painting school and Den kongelige tegneskole in Kristiania (today Oslo). In 1874 Munthe visited Düsseldorf, where he engaged in evocative landscape painting. From 1877 to 1882 he pursued self-study of the Old Masters in Munich. From 1890 Munthe showed increasing interest in decorative arts, designing patterns for wallpaper and in 1891 the first motif that his wife realized on a loom. Influenced by Norwegian folk art he developed his own style, garnering international renown with his fairy-tale watercolours, which he exhibited in 1893 at the Salon in Paris, the Secession in Munich and at the World's Fair in Chicago. In 1898 he completed his own design for the Fairy-Tale Room in the Turisthotell in Kristiania. From 1900 he took on numerous exhibitions and commissions at home and abroad, and in 1910 Munthe finally received the commission to decorate Håkonshallen in Bergen. Gerhard Munthe died on 15 January 1929.
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design,
Oslo (NO), until 2 September 2018

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Posted 26 June 2018

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In the Giant’s Lair . 1892. Watercolour. 76.5 Å~ 111.2 cm.
KODE, Bergen Kunstmuseum.
Photo: Dag Fosse

The Suitors . 1897. 185 Å~ 226 cm. Tapestry woven by
Augusta Christensen for the Museum für Kunst und
Gewerbe Hamburg.
Photo: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg

The Tracks of Blood . 1892. Watercolour. 68 ~ 51.5 cm.
Private collection.

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