Swedish Grace

Swedish Grace
A period of Swedish neoclassical design and crafts spanning the 1920's
On view November 14, 2014 - February 14, 2015 in Berlin

Swedish Grace had been a brief yet substantial moment that emerged in the 1920’s and came to represent a brilliant mix of classicism and architectural details. Architecture, interior design, and crafts were defined by simplified shapes and purity of composition -- a huge step away from nationalism and Jugendstil. A young and talented generation of architects and designers looked back to classicism and their own Nordic traditions, and created an incredibly modern vernacular style characterized by timeless proportions, luxuriously superb handcraft, and playful details. Swedish Grace had multi-layered objectives; while maintaining a social agenda, it appealed to the cultural and economic elite of the day through the production of high quality design. In addition to featuring several rare pieces originally exhibited at the Paris World Exhibition 1925, Jacksons is pleased to showcase “Gyllene Salen” (1999), a large-scale photographic septych by contemporary Finnish artist Ola Kolehmainen taken at the Golden Hall of the City Hall in Stockholm.

Exhibition View
Exhibition View
The standout piece in the exhibition at Jacksons is a gold mosaic table depicting Apollo in the Chariot by Swedish artist Einar Forseth. The original mosaic top—one of the samples made in 1921 for the competition to design the Golden Hall of the City Hall in Stockholm—was produced by the leading glass firm for glass mosaics, Puhl & Wagner in Berlin. Forseth and Puhl & Wagner were then commissioned to design the interior of the Golden Hall.  Between 1921 and 1923, more than 18 million glass mosaic tiles were installed there. Ref. 9132.
Exhibition View
The modern movement in Sweden had been launched by theorists Ellen Key and Gregor Paulsson, and architect Gunnar Asplund quickly became the movement’s central figure.  Asplund’s approach included both decoration derived from classical elements and Classical methods of working with space. Image: The Skandia Theater in Stockholm by Gunnar Asplund, which opened in 1923.
Ref. 9063, This black lacquered wood and velvet upholstered chair by Gunnar Asplund was designed 1922 to 1923 and is an original piece from the Skandia Theater.
A number of artists and architects proceeded in Asplund’s footsteps in the fields of ceramics, textile, glass, and furniture, and created timeless objects for leading companies such as Orrefors, Gustavsberg and Nordiska Kompaniet.
Ref. 7472. Lacquered wood table base designed by Uno Åhren. Pewter engraved top by Tyra Lundgren. Stamped "SVENSKT TENN B8". B8 = year 1928. The works of Tyra Lundgren are driven by her commitment to both art and design. In the 20s she designed tableware for the Moser factory in Karlsbach.
 She has been influenced by the artistic movement “Valori Plastici”. After having gained international success, Tyra Lundgren started collaborating with Italian designer Paolo Venini, one of the leading figures in the production of Murano glass.
The big international breakthrough for Swedish Grace and Swedish Design came at the Paris World Exhibition in 1925.  The Swedish National Pavilion in Paris, designed by distinguished architect Carl Bergsten, took the form of a white neo-Greek temple with Ionic columns, furnished by Gunnar Asplund and Carl Malmsten.  Artist Simon Gate designed Baroque-inspired covered urns that guarded the entrance hall. Uno Åhrén’s “Lady’s Salon” was a standout installation, admired as an international highlight of the decade.  Engraved glass by Gate for Orrefors, ceramics by Wilhelm Kåge for Gustavsberg, and iron works from Näfveqvarns bruk also symbolized the accomplishments of the decorative arts by Sweden’s leading designers.
The Swedish National Pavilion captured the attention of the most demanding critics of the decade, and was awarded 31 grand prizes and a number of honour diplomas.  The movement was embraced by the international press and Sweden was heralded as a leading nation in craft and design.  The movement was subsequently dubbed “Swedish Grace” by English critic Morton Shand.
Neoclassical Pewter Box, inscribed Nils Fougstedt, Ref. 3325. Craftsman and sculptor Nils Fougstedt mainly worked in pewter, often creating engraved scenes of figures and animals. Together with Estrid Ericson he founded the company Svenskt Tenn. Engaging the in the neo-classicist movement in the 1920s, he later turned to functionalism. His unique, early pieces are today highly collectable.
Notable contemporary museums and collectors in the 1920’s were eager to acquire the objects displayed at these prestigious exhibitions.  Due to the tremendous international success in Paris 1925, Sweden was the first European country to exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York at the exhibition “Contemporary Swedish Decorative Arts” in 1927.  For the first time, Swedish Grace was exposed to high-demanding consumers across the Atlantic in Manhattan. Näfveqvarn table No.10, Ref. 7641.
Exhibition View featuring one panel of artist Ola Kolehmainen's photographic septych “Gyllene Salen” (1999) on right.
Ref. 7263, Rare hand-carved lion and engraved copper top table by artist Anna Petrus, which was originally exhibited at the Paris World Exhibition in 1925. The copper tray features engravings of stylized fishing scenes. Oak base and tray signed A.Petrus.
Detail, Ref. 7263, Anna Petrus is one of the most exceptional Swedish artists of the early 20th century. Active in a group of avant-garde artists, she created new forms of artistic expression. Her work composes an imaginative mix of drama, dance, music, visual arts as well as furniture design. The artist's favored materials were stone, wood, marble, iron and tin. In her designs she often re-interpreted Greek myths and approached them from an innovative, feminist perspective. She frequently used the rebel lion as a symbol.
This short-lived period of Swedish Grace overlapped with the emergence of modernism at the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930, which was held in white exhibition halls and glass facades designed by chief architect Gunnar Asplund.  Radical young architects focused on new functionalist ideas that demonstrated the Swedish contribution to international modern industrial design. Swedish Grace had been responsible for positioning Sweden as a leading nation in design during the 20th-century, and is now being revisited on this rare occasion at Jacksons.