To understand Scandi-art, you must bear in mind the area’s stormy history, its forbidding and austere landscapes and its inhabitants’ natural predilection for solitude. No wonder the early artists of Norway, Sweden and Denmark were generally intrepid explorers, too.
Andrew Graham-Dixon starts by examining the epitome of Nordic angst – Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream – but he also muses on the chilling landscapes of Peder Balke, the existentialism of philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and the haunting misery of playwright Henrik Ibsen, as well as enthusing over Viking ships and churches that could come straight from a Brothers Grimm story.
But it’s the effect of the harsh landscape that he keeps returning to, concluding that it is perhaps the most potent symbol of Norwegian art. “It’s their greatest museum: a vast open-air art gallery where all can commune with the mysteries of nature,” he says.
Scandinavia - a land of extremes, on the edge of Europe. Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the extraordinary art to come out of the dark Norwegian soul, most famous for producing The Scream by Edvard Munch.