Exhibitions

CHRISTIAN KROHG
AND BOHEMIAN KRISTIANIA

1st and 2nd floor
08. February - 02. June 2014

The exhibition focuses on the activities of the Norwegian painter Christian Krohg (1852-1925) in the years from 1880 up to 1900. In those years Krohg was of great importance to Norwegian artistic and cultural life, and through his art and writings occupied a central position in public debate on culture on the country.

Christian Krohg initially trained as a lawyer and later as an artist in Germany in 1873-79. At the beginning of the 1880s he travelled with his colleague Frits Thaulow to Skagen in Denmark, but he spent the greater part by far of his time in Kristiania (present-day Oslo). At the beginning of the 1880s he also travelled to Paris, where among other things he studied Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet. Realism and the artists’ choices of subjects were great inspirations for Krohg.

In the 1880s Krohg participated in the circle of so-called Kristiania Bohemians who, in the wake of the literary critic Hans Jæger’s censored work Fra Kristiania-Bohêmen (1885) waged ‘war’ on the bourgeoise, its morality and its social and political values. Those who formed the core of this ‘Kristiania Bohème’ were rather younger than Krohg, and a few of them described him afterwards more as an “honorary Bohemian”. In the Bohemian period Krohg still adhered to Naturalism. What particularly linked Krohg and Jæger was their strong conviction that art should play an active role in the development of society; a society where the individual was free.

Art and literature were not to be “gourmandism for the most sophisticated”, “decoration” in the rooms of the bourgeoisie or entertaining, non-committal reading material. Art was to offer insight and preferably evoke reactions in the form of debates that could enlighten the broad stratum of the population. This was their interpretation of Naturalism. Jæger and Krohg both created works of art that met this ideal of commit­ment among the public; Jæger with the autobiographical novel Fra Kristiania-Bohêmen and Krohg with the novel about Albertine and the subsequent painting Albertine at the Police Doctor’s Waiting Room.

Through Krohg’s use of the portrait the exhibition turns the focus on the artist’s great engagement in the world around him and the milieu of which he was a part, as well as the way he championed the role of art in society. During these years he painted intimate depictions of his family on the one hand, and on the other a succession of portraits of artists, literati and others who were part of the Norwegian artistic and cultural scene in the period. However, Krohg also chose to make room for people who did not otherwise play any visible or significant role in public, and at Skagen as well as Kristiania he painted the ordinary population with great empathy and interest in the individual. 

Christian Krohg exhibition at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND

Christian Krohg exhibition at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND

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Christian Krohg exhibition at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND

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Christian Krohg exhibition at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND