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Art of Scandinavia: Season 1

1x03 Democratic by Design

  • 2016-03-28T20:00:00Z on BBC Four
  • 50 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary

Prior to the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930 (a showcase of design and architecture), Swedish art reflected the typical Nordic anxieties and introspection that we’ve seen throughout the series.

There were turbulent seascapes, gloomy landscapes and melancholy portraits. But, as Andrew Graham-Dixon points out, because Sweden didn’t participate in the First World War its post-war art was “softer and more benign than that of its counterparts in Italy, Germany and France”.

Those with a passing acquaintance with Ikea will recognise its links to the functionalist aesthetic and Carl Larsson’s charming paintings of family life, while we also learn the origins of Scandi-noir drama.

Andrew arrives in Sweden - home of IKEA and a tradition of brilliant furniture design stretching back to the early years of the 20th century. Sweden has made its modern democratic mission one of comfort and civilised living for the masses - but has it got there?