In this autumn's major exhibition, we make a splash on Liljevalch's more than century-old history, from the inaugural exhibition in 1916 with the time's top trio Carl Larsson, Bruno Liljefors and Anders Zorn to the 2020 pandemic-affected presentation of Hilding Linnqvist.


Cool Timeline

Carl Fredrik Liljevalch
Carl Fredrik Liljevalch
Liljevalch Art Gallery is named after the successful businessman Carl Fredrik Liljevalch Jr (1837–1909). We will never know what he himself would have thought of it all, because the initiative for the art gallery was taken after his death. The super modern building at Kungliga Djurgården was constructed with the help of money left over in his estate inventory. Read more here
Carl Larsson, Bruno Liljefors and Anders Zorn
Carl Larsson, Bruno Liljefors and Anders Zorn

At the end of the 19th century, artists' circles had long wanted to create an independent art gallery for permanent exhibitions of contemporary art. As a protest against the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, the Opponents were formed in 1885 by a collection of Swedish artists. In a letter, they called for reforms to the academy's organization, teaching and exhibitions but were rejected. The following year, the Swedish Artists' Association was formed, which at the turn of the century had almost 100 members. When Liljevalchs konsthall was inaugurated in March 1916, the members of the Swedish Artists' Association had finally reached their goal – a neutral place where they could freely display their works. It also wanted to give completely unknown and as yet unrecognised artists an honest chance to meet a wider audience. The inaugural exhibition showed works by Anders Zorn, Carl Larsson and Bruno Liljefors, all of which have been the driving force behind the project with the art gallery. It was also these three artists who exhibited at the inaugural exhibition with together about 300 works. The audience streamed to and by lowering the regular entrance fee of SEK 1 to 25 öre for certain times, so-called cheap days, so it was also possible for the larger public to come and visit the exhibition. There was a great deal of interest in the opening of Liljevalchs and the opening exhibition and the press wrote columns about this, no less than 57 pages of press clippings are preserved in the archive.

Austrian exhibition
Austrian exhibition

The Austrian exhibition was remarkable from many aspects. In June 1917, in the midst of the war, an agreement was reached between Liljevalch director Sven Strindberg and Karl Bittner, commercial attaché of the Austro-Hungarian legation, for an Austrian art exhibition at Liljevalch's art gallery from 15 August to 30 September 1917. The exhibiting artists included Albin Egger-Lienz, Anton Faistauer, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele and the sculptor Anton Hanak, among others. The exhibition was curated by architect and designer Josef Hoffman. Hoffmann was one of the central figures of the Austrian Wiener Sezession, a radical group of artists and architects. In addition to art, Austrian crafts and architecture were also on display. It was the first time these artists and designers were shown in Scandinavia. The opening of the exhibition was accompanied by an Austrian week with lectures, concerts by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and fashion shows of Austrian haute couture.

Home exhibition
Home exhibition

The exhibition opened on October 17, 1917. The idea was to turn to the working class with simple furniture and household utensils at an affordable price, designed by famous Swedish artists and architects. The exhibition was preceded by a competition, so that the participating designers and companies could produce objects for the exhibition in good time. Interior designer and furniture designer David Blomberg was the inspector of and participated in the exhibition. Industrialist and financier August Nachmanson was treasurer and member of the board of the Swedish Crafts Association from 1916 to 1931. The exhibition's work committee consisted of chairman Erik Wettergren, textile artist Elsa Gullberg, architect Carl Bergsten (who had also designed Liljevalch's art gallery), Press Commissioner Gregor Paulsson and Secretary Yngve Larsson. The exhibition showed 23 fully furnished apartments equipped with the new products. Gunnar Asplund's kitchen (a new form of stove room) received a lot of praise. Uno Åhrén, who was still in the Technical School, received an award for the furnishing of, among other things, a kitchen. He also drew the wallpaper Elsagården. Carl Malmsten received an award for his austere furniture in beetrooted pine. Wilhelm Kåge designed the exhibition poster and showed the so-called Worker's Servo in light blue-gray faiance with blue décor, which was named Lilje blå, a combination of "Liljevalchs" and "blue". The home exhibition was a huge success with more than 40,000 visitors in two months, five times more than expected. But the housing crisis, food shortages and the ongoing First World War meant that the working class they had hoped to reach were unable to take part in the new fashions. The 50 cent entrance fee alone was a deterrent for a worker with a daily income of about $4. Instead, it became a form-conscious middle class that embraced the new ideas.

Expressionist Exhibition
Expressionist Exhibition

In the spring of 1918, three of the most prominent modernists of the time exhibited at Liljevalchs: Isaac Grünewald, Sigrid Hjertén and Leander Engström. A total of 450 works were shown, of which Grünewald accounted for 220 works, Hjertén for 170 and Engström only 65. Visitors were divided into this new direction of art, either for or against modernism. Dagens Nyheter's and Svenska Dagbladet's critics Karl Asplund and August Brunius were positive in their articles, but several others gave scathing criticism, above all it was Hjertén that was going after. Most reproduced is artist Albert Engström's text in the joke magazine Strix about Hjertén's painting: "She has her models in the Eugenia home. And seems to possess a perverse longing only for delusions. There is by God nothing of art in her idiotic crow's kicks." This exhibition featured several of Swedish modernism's most significant works such as The Singing Tree, Apache Dance and Bullfighting by Isaac Grünewald, The Black Boot, Testunden and The Blue Cart by Sigrid Hjertén and Autumn Vegetation Image from Torneträsk, Landscape Model with Pear and Rose and Street in Gränna by Leander Engström. This exhibition is important from an art-historical angle and is considered the major breakthrough for modern painting in Sweden.

Italian exhibition
Italian exhibition

The Italian exhibition was a collaboration with the Swedish Crafts Association and Italy and built on the Home Exhibition's ideas from 1917 to be able to produce beautiful everyday goods of good quality to the broad masses.
The exhibition's jury from both the Swedish and Italian sides consisted of names- knowledgeable historians and cultural personalities - but the exhibition itself was sponsored by various companies in the art industry. Above all, Italian works of art with roots in folk art were shown. Worth mentioning that a young designer named Giovanni Ponti showed his early works at this exhibition.
In connection with the exhibition, Italian food and music were also offered in Osterian, a restaurant on liljevalch's premises. It was the first time pasta was served to the log islets!

Workshop exhibition

The workshop association was founded in 1918 as a non-profit association of architects, craftsmen and artists. The aim was to "promote the artistic work for the interior design of the Swedish home through active activities". The chairman was Hakon Ahlberg, editor of the Crafts Association. The workshop's first exhibition, which opened in early autumn 1920 in Liljevalchs konsthall, was more bourgeois than hemutställningen three years earlier. As in 1917, the participants had assembled interiors of various kinds, but now they were not hampered by prices and lack of space, but dared to be more artistically innovative. Some of the exhibitors who received special attention were Gunnar Asplund, Sigurd Lewerentz, Uno Åhrén and Carl Hörvik. The exhibition was vigorously discussed in the press and many were highly critical. Despite attempts to make "more beautiful everyday goods", the furniture was still expensive and reserved for a well-off middle class.

Spring Salon – An institution since 1921

The spring salon is a jury-judged exhibition that is open for anyone over the age of 18 to apply to. The spring salon usually runs from mid-January to March and thus begins every new art year at Liljevalchs. The first salon opened in 1921 and Vårsalongen is thus – in principle – the country's oldest unbroken exhibition format. Each work is for sale and the price set by the participants themselves is in the exhibition catalogue. The spring salon has been cancelled a few times, including during the emergency time during The Second World War. In the earliest years of the salon, it also bore other names and the exhibition period shifted. Otherwise, the concept has been the same over the years.

April Exhibition
April Exhibition

At the beginning of the last century, the situation for female artists was difficult, only men were allowed to participate in artist organizations, which was a requirement to be able to exhibit, among other things at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. In 1910, the Association of Swedish Artists (FSK) was founded in Stockholm by some 40 female artists. In 1921, the association held its acclaimed April exhibition at Liljevalch Art Gallery. Seventeen artists participated, of which Maj Bring, Sigrid Hjertén, Charlotte Mannheimer and Milly Slöör (Capercaillie) were previously students of Matisse. The exhibition was heavily criticised by some critics. Among other things, Albert Engström wrote in Strix: "I visited the women's exhibition at Liljewalch the other day and I have never seen anything so terrible," he wrote. The exhibition was a "disgrace to the whole female sex." Because women lacked self-criticism, they should be banned from "blaming themselves and the country" as they are now doing. The association's previous exhibitions in the 1910s had received relatively positive feedback in the daily press, but perhaps the negative criticism in 1921 was due to the fact that women were given the right to vote that year and that their role in society began to change. Women began to enter what had previously been exclusively male areas.

Newer German art

The exhibition was organized by Professor Gustav Pauli, director of the Kunsthalle in Hamburg, who worked to spread modern German art beyond the country's borders. The exhibiting artists stretched from the 1850s until the avant-garde German expressionism represented by, among others, Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Oskar Kokoschka and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

Novecento Italiano – Contemporary Italian art

Novecento Italiano was an Italian group formed in 1922 with the aim of reviving the tradition of historical painting and sculpture in large format. Mussolini was invited as speaker at one of the group's first official performances in 1923. The group has been associated with fascism, but the fact is that Novecento Italiano never stood for any propaganda art, on the contrary, the group included so many different orientations that in the 1920s they were criticized by the fascis themselves. It was Prince Eugen, as chairman of liljevalch's board of directors, who invited the group through Margaritha Sarfatti, an Italian journalist with ties to fascism. She was Mussolini's life cartoonist and mistress. This exhibition featured works by Giorgio de Chirico, Carlo Carrà and Marino Marini, among others.

Housing and housing exhibitions
Housing and housing exhibitions

Standard 1934 was a housing and housing exhibition organized by the Swedish Crafts Association and the Swedish Architects' Association. The exhibition opened on 18 May at Liljevalchs konsthall and was a follow-up to the development from the Stockholm exhibition four years earlier. Apartments, townhouses, furnishings, household utensils, furniture, textiles and much more were exposed. Standardization and mass manufacturing were the ransom of the time and a way to push prices down. Standard 1934 had the good news that furniture manufacturers began to realize that they would start with mass production of standardized furniture, which had not been the result after the 1930 Stockholm exhibition. The contemporary criticism was overwhelmingly positive and many people believed that compared to the Stockholm exhibition in 1930, the modified functionalism presented at Standard 1934 was easier to like. Six months later, an exhibition was arranged in the same spirit as Standard 1934 but with more focus on furniture and interior design, the name of the exhibition was simply the name of the exhibitors: Märta Måås-Fjetterström, Carl Malmsten, Elsa Gullberg, David Blomberg, Svenskt Tenn, Gefle porcelainfabrik AB. Curiosa: Liljevalchssoffan from 1934 was among the first furniture that Josef Frank designed for Svenskt Tenn. It was first shown at Liljevalch Art Gallery, hence the name "Liljevalchssoffan". In a letter to Estrid Ericson, Josef Frank wrote that he had drawn the large generous shape on the sofa in protest against the prevailing functionalism and the swedish craft association's boredom.

Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Laurens

In 1938, the exhibition Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Laurens was shown at Liljevalch Art Gallery. This was a walking exhibition and many of the works on display came directly from the large display of French contemporary art in the Petit Palais, Les maîtres de l'art independent – one of the most high-profile artistic manifestations associated with the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. Included in this exhibition was Pablo Picasso's famous painting Guernica, with motifs from the German terrorist bombings in the Basque Country in April 1937. The painting is the artist's largest ever, 349×776 cm, and was commissioned to the Spanish Pavilion at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. Guernica was then shown in several places in Europe, but when the Spanish Republic fell in April 1939, the painting was moved to MoMA in New York. After Franco's death and the return of democracy, the painting could be sent back to Spain in 1981, and today it is permanently exhibited at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid. The artists had an impact on artistic development in Sweden. Among others, Vera Nilsson's monumental work Penning contra liv bears clear features of Guernica.

Lilyvalchs during World War II

In 1939 and a few years ahead, Liljevalchs was closed to exhibitions and the premises were taken over by the Navy's naval base. The navyman Birger Lindberg from Fjällbacka remembers his time in Stockholm during the war years: "After the outbreak of war, preparedness was tightened in Sweden, especially in the Navy, which had been upgraded compared to other weapons battles that had been dismantled during the interwar period. So many people were called to Stockholm that regiments and other camps were not enough. "Liljevalchs konsthall and Cirkus became temporary dressing rooms," Birger recalls. With many young men in the same place, it wasn't always so quiet and in some places the navy's men weren't so well seen. At the entrance to a restaurant in Stockholm there was a sign that said 'Dogs and marines do not own access'." Fredh, W. Terje Eleventh Hour Maritime Memories, Lysekil, 2002

Edvard Munch. Memorial exhibition.
Edvard Munch. Memorial exhibition.

The collection of Edvard Munch, which the artist had donated by will to the City of Oslo, had only been shown once before outside norway's borders (Copenhagen, 1946). There were requests from both the US, England and the then Soviet Union to allow the exhibition to proceed from Denmark, but instead Sweden was chosen – something that Prince Eugen describes in his foreword to the catalogue as "an expression of sympathy and togetherness, which has kept its core unheard of even during times of difficult trials". The exhibition, which included a selection of the collection of about 150 paintings and graphic sheets, broke audience records in Copenhagen so by the time the exhibition came to Liljevalchs in Stockholm, the City of Oslo had added additional works. Even in Sweden, there was so much interest in this exhibition that the opening hours were extended by two weeks.

Kollwitz & Barlach

The war years are usually referred to as the "five lean years" in cultural contexts in Sweden. There was a lively protest in some cultural circles that the navy had occupied Liljevalch's premises so that no exhibitions were possible. When the German artists Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach were honoured with a memorial exhibition in 1949, it was a long-awaited event. Both artists' works were counted in Nazi Germany as entartete Kunst and both died during the war. This was one of many exhibitions around Europe after the end of the war that were arranged to pay tribute to the artists placed with professional bans by the Nazis.

Ernst Josephson. Memorial exhibition

By the time the exhibition opened in 1951, a century had passed since Josephson was born. The exhibition was a collaboration between Liljevalchs, Nationalmuseum and the Gothenburg Museum of Art to give each generation a comprehensive overview of Josephson's work. All works from Waldemarsudde were lent except Strömkarlen. The centenary of Josephson's birth occurred in the middle of a divided century, at a time that for many felt like a turning point – and a focal point. Just as Josephson's art at the beginning of the last century had been a tipping point and a new beginning for art also meant the beginning of the 1950s as a tipping point and a new start for the whole of society.

Mexican art from antiquity to the present

This exhibition stands out in Liljevalch's history both in terms of scope and number of visitors. It was shown only in two European countries, first at the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris and then at Liljevalchs in Stockholm. There were reportedly 23 other countries that had their applications rejected. The choice of Sweden motivated the Mexican Minister of Education Gual Vidal, who along with the Swedish king serves as the exhibition's high patron, with the Swedes' own efforts in Mexico and so the fact that Paris and Stockholm must probably be considered the most important centres, when it comes to reaching the largest possible European audience. It took 12 train carriages to transport all the more than 2,000 items that stretched from precolumbian times to the present with an insurance value of over SEK 600 million (then). During the transport, the cargo was guarded by eight well-armed state police officers. The exhibition is the most visited in Liljevalch's history with 212,431 visitors. Group trips by bus and boat were arranged and people came travelling from all over Sweden and also from our neighbouring countries to visit the tour. On some busy days, there were over 7,000 visitors. Curiosity: There was unusual rainfall during the exhibition period, perhaps because visitors sacrificed to the rain god Chac Mool. This was heard by a farmer in Barcelona on the radio. He then sent a pesetas note to Radiotjänst in Stockholm and asked them to help him sacrifice this banknote to the rain god so that it would rain on his dry almond trees instead. Lasse Åberg shares his experience of the exhibition at Liljevalchs in 1952: "It is a mystery why my father, who was not particularly interested in art, took me to Liljevalchs one September day in 1952 to see the exhibition Mexican Art from antiquity to the present. It was an overwhelming experience for little Lars with skulls, dramatic paintings by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, ancient sculptures and suggestive graphics. The exhibition was one of the most visited that Liljevalchs had /... / and I found out that one of my favorite artists, Öyvind Fahlström, moonlighted as a guard during the exhibition period. Maybe he told me I couldn't touch the canded skull."

Twelve contemporary American painters and sculptors

The exhibition Twelve contemporary American painters and sculptors was initiated by the US State Department and was a collaboration with MoMA to present abstract expressionism beyond us borders. The exhibition toured the world between 1953 and 1954 and was shown at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris before eventually arriving at Liljevalchs in Stockholm in 1953. Participating artists were the main representatives of abstract expressionism such as Arshile Gorky, Morris Graves, Edward Hopper, John Kane, John Marin, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Alexander Calder, Theodore J. Roszak and David Smith. It was the first time this American art direction had been shown in Europe. Jackson Pollock's action paintings in particular influenced Swedish artists, such as Britt Lundbohm Reutersvärd.

Carl Kylberg. Memorial exhibition

Two years after the artist's death, a large memorial exhibition was arranged by Carl Kylberg, the artist who was a great role model for, among others, the Gothenburg school students. In connection with an earlier exhibition at Liljevalchs, the artist himself wrote a call to visitors: "To the visitor! First, a warm welcome! There's only one thing I want to ask of You. There is a wardrobe for outerwear in the entrance hall and I ask you – along with your clothes, also hang in any pendant, which consists of habitual, preconceived notions or perhaps prejudice. Only then, when you have freed yourself from these long-suffering thoughts, can you perhaps enjoy my paintings with a little pleasure." Two years earlier, in 1952, shortly after the artist's death, a major exhibition with Carl Kylberg was arranged in Paris. He was then the first foreign (not in France resident) artist to be invited by the French state to exhibit at the Palais des Beaux-Arts.

Nils Dardel. Memorial exhibition
Nils Dardel. Memorial exhibition

The memorial exhibition of Carl Kylberg was followed the following year with a ditto over Nils Dardel. More than 450 works were on display in the exhibition. Dardel was a valued artist for the wide audience at the time. Reproductions of his watercolours from the 1940s when he traveled around Mexico and Guatemala were found in almost every home. During the opening day alone, around 10,000 visitors watched the exhibition. It got to the point where you had to call the police so no one would get trampled. Also on display was the work The Dying Dandy, 1918, which came to symbolize the art boom of the 1980s. Financier Fredrik Roos bought the painting in 1984 for SEK 3.4 million. It was then the highest price paid for a Swedish work of art. Four years later, in 1988, the work was sold at auction for a new record price of 13 million. After several other tours, Dandyn finally ended up at Moderna Museet, which bought it in 1993.

An international and political decade

During this decade, no less than 15 international exhibitions were arranged. After the Second World War, many countries wanted to work together in international organisations to avoid major new wars and facilitate economic development. In 1946, for example, the United Nations was formed to work for peace and security. The purpose of these international exhibitions was usually to strengthen relations and cultural exchanges between the countries, which is why each country's embassy was involved in the exhibition process, usually with the king or head of state as the supreme patron. The texts in Liljevalch's exhibition catalogues from this time were often explicitly political with the hope of good relations and trade relations.

The nasty ones. Nightmare and reality in Swedish 1960s.

The 1960s were marked by changes, conflicts and uprisings against the current systems. There were many worldwide protests against, among other things, the Vietnam War and the soviet brutal entry into Czechoslovakia at the same time as the race riots raged in the United States. 1968 was a year of many subversive events in the world and the exhibition The Nasty ones was a mirror of the contemporary political climate. In the foreword to the exhibition catalogue, Folke Edwards wrote about a new aggressive generation of artists who, with a social awareness, tried to protest against the evils of the world – against imperialism, racial oppression and biochemical poisoning. The exhibition was reported on several occasions when the works were not considered to be "art".

Arman. Accumulations Renault.

When Liljevalch's art gallery exhibited Arman in the early 1970s, he was one of the brightest stars among the artists of the time. In the 1960s, Arman co-founded the group "Nouveaux Réalistes" with César, Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein, among others. This direction of art is seen as the European equivalent of pop art in the United States. In a press clip about the exhibition, Arman told how he and Yves Klein had divided the world among themselves – Yves Klein would address in his art what was organic while Arman would devote himself to what was industrially produced. In the exhibition Accumulations Renault, which was a collaboration with the car company Renault, Arman exhibited sculptures and objects created from different parts from the car factory.


The 1972 exhibition at Liljevalchs consisted of a collection of paintings and sculptures that Miró himself had donated to his Catalan hometown of Barcelona with the intention that it would form the basis of a museum. It was the first time that this collection was shown outside Spain and it was the largest single exhibition with the artist in Scandinavia. Joan Miró was very politically engaged and was part of a secret cultural resistance group against the Franco regime in Spain. The music Miró chose to play during the exhibition at Liljevalchs was also a political standpoint. The Spanish singer Raimon, who in the 1960s had attracted a lot of attention by singing in the forbidden language Catalan, sang during the screening Catalan medieval poems as well as poems by Salvador Espriu.

Friends of handicraft 100 years

As part of giving women an opportunity for their own livelihood, Sophie Adlersparre started the Friends of Handicraft Association in 1874. From the very beginning, in parallel with the artistic work, there was an educational ambition. At the turn of the century, Carin Wästberg and Maja Sjöström stood for the artistic expression together with the art industry designers Gunnar Wennerberg and Alf Wallander and the artists Anna Boberg, Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn. In the mid-1950s, production consisted mainly of utility products such as furniture fabrics, curtains and carpets; only the artist Alf Munthe was attached to HV for the artistic work. Then Edna Martin took over as direct rice and under her leadership the textile monumental art developed. She was later attached to Konstfack where she could further develop the textile art. Until the exhibition at Liljevalchs, HV had collaborated with some 50 artists, including Lennart Rodhe, Max Walter Svanberg, Endre Nemes, Karl Axel Pehrson, Lenke Rothman, Siri Derkert and Olle Bærtling. Edna Martin once asked a critic in the daily press about the reason why textiles were not judged as art was a lack of interest, ignorance or sheer reluctance and received the answer "as much of each".

Kjartan Slettemark – The Poodle
Kjartan Slettemark – The Poodle

Kjartan Slettemark turned herself in in a poodle suit to Liljevalchs Vårsalong in February 1975. Kjartan Slettemark's poodle was called but rejected. Thanks to photographer and friend Brita Olsson, the moment was immortalized – which can now be considered one of the most important in Swedish art history and especially in Swedish performance art.
The origin of the artist's period in poodle costume was a sloppy message from the head of social services to Kjartan that instead of living on social security benefits, he should go to "Arbetsförmedlingen's customer reception".
"But it looked like it said "dog reception", so I spent six months sewing a dog suit," Kjartan told Dagens Nyheter in 2007.
The poodle appeared in several art contexts during the 1970s as Kjartan's protest against the artist's role as the establishment's lapdog.

American 1980s

After World War II, the United States and, above all, New York became an important center of avant-garde art: abstract expressionism in the 1950s, pop art in the 1960s and 1970s, and postmodernism in the 1980s. The exhibition American 1980s consisted of a collection from neue galerie in German Aachen belonging to the chocolate manufacturer Peter Ludwig and his wife Irene. Alongside Charles Saatchi in Britain, Ludwig was one of the largest collectors of American postwar art in Europe. Much of the exhibition at Liljevalchs consisted of graffiti art with artists such as A-one, NOC 167, Lady Pink, John CRASH Matos, DAZE, Futura 2000, TOXIC with several clays. Lars Nittve, who was then an art critic in Svenska Dagbladet, was not impressed by this graffiti: "Daze! Crash!! Lee!!! Noc 167!!!! I'm in the exhibition American 80's at Liljevalchs. The thunderous inferno of the Far Underground, on neat paintings in the halls of the art gallery, transforms the proud fanfare into a sad memento about what the Arts Council calls 'the negative side effects of commercialism'." Today, several of these artists are seen as important pioneers in graffiti art. Also at the exhibition were several of the greatest artists of American postmodernism, such as Eric Fischl, Julian Schnabel, Robert Longo, David Salle and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Art - British 1980s

In parallel with neoexpressionism in Germany and the Italian transavant guard, in Britain in the 1980s a similar direction of art emerged, where a new generation of artists challenged modernism by mixing high and low in art, rhetoric and gags, art and non-art, gallery and street culture, production and consumption, heroically and mundanely – a kind of levelling of all hierarchies. Both paintings and sculpture were exhibited and throughout this 1980s art were the monumental formats of the artworks that both figuratively and literally filled the halls to the brim. Among the 17 exhibiting artists are Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor, Christopher Le Brun, Richard Long, Lisa Milroy, Julian Opie, John Walker and Bill Woodrow. In connection with the exhibition, a panel debate was arranged where artists max book, Eva Löfdahl and Björn Lövin, among others, had been invited, which was Sweden's answer to the exhibiting English artists.

They went to Paris.

In the autumn of 1985 until the beginning of 1986, the major Nordic initiative in Nordic painting was shown at Nationalmuseum. It was the first time Nordic art from this important period was highlighted in a uniform presentation. Although there were female artists in this exhibition (Anna Ancher, Helene Schjerfbeck, Maria Wiik, Harriet Backer, Kitty Kielland, Eva Bonnier and Hanna Pauli) the male artists were in clear dominance in number. When Liljevalchs showed the exhibition De drogo to Paris, the female artists who had been shown at the Nationalmuseum were also present, but also many women who had been noticed during their time but then forgotten and disappeared from art history. A total of 250 works were shown. Common to these artists was 1880s Paris, where women could educate themselves and live in freer circumstances than in their home country. The exhibition was the great success of the 1980s with queues ringing in front of Liljevalch's gate. The press was also overwhelmingly in favour of this exhibition and there were columns written in the newspapers about the importance of highlighting these forgotten female artists in order to be able to re-enter art history.

See man

When Dan Wolgers was invited to exhibit at the group exhibition See Man, he wanted to highlight the poor remuneration conditions of artists, as he saw it. He therefore took two benches from Liljevalchs on his own initiative and handed them in to Stockholms Auktionsverk where they were sold to a hair salon. Wolger's actions were reported to the police by two private individuals, which led to him being sentenced to probation and 60 daily fines. When the verdict came, Wolgers sold the document with service unopened to his gallerist in Norway. For the modest sum wolgers received from the bench auction, he bought a fax machine for his studio. The judgment has since been sold several times, most recently at auction in 2016 for SEK 300,000. The irony of the crow song was that Dan Wolgers argued that Liljevalch's art gallery carried out a similar theft against him when, without informing him or getting his approval, they made a pastiche of one of Wolger's works used for press and vernissage cards and more. The work in question was the Yellow Pages catalogue, which Wolgers had been invited to make catalogue covers for 1992. He then simply put out his name and phone number all over the page. The catalogue was then distributed for free throughout the country. Today, Wolger's catalogue is in the collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. See man was a group exhibition where the central theme was man from a contemporary perspective. Participating artists included Helene Billgren, Lena Cronqvist, Cecilia Edefalk, Marianne Lindberg De Geer, Rita Lundqvist, Ann-Sofi Sidén, Kjartan Slettemark, Jan Svenungsson and Tommy Östmar.

Lena Cronqvist

With over 250 works, Lena Cronqvist filled the halls at Liljevalchs with an extensive retrospective exhibition. The works, which were mostly selected by the artist himself, were thematically hung in different rooms with "Girls" in a couple of halls, "Family Life", "Madonnor", and "The Painter and Her Model" in others and so on. Since the 1960s, Lena Cronqvist has played a significant role in the Swedish present with her self-revealing, existential works of art. The large retrospective exhibition at Liljevalchs, which ran from the early 1960s until 1994, attracted a large audience during the barely two autumn months that the works were shown in Stockholm before the exhibition continued to Konsthallen in Gothenburg.

Torsten Renqvist

Many are the students who have arranged a meeting at the Kangaroo, the both beloved and hated sculpture by Torsten Renqvist that is placed outside the library at Stockholm University. The exhibition at Liljevalchs was an extensive retrospective with nearly 250 works (drawings, paintings, sculpture and graphics) spanning nearly 50 years of creation. The then superintendent at Liljevalchs Folke Lalander wrote in the foreword to the catalogue: "Torsten Renqvist was a brilliant and wayward artist as early as the early 1950s. He is still, in the middle of the 90s, brilliant and wayward – but now in a different way and in a different medium. All in all, this means that he is the ideal retrospective exhibitor".

Anna Sjödahl

The artist Anna Sjödahl often took as her artistry a starting point in everyday life – its problems or its dreams. Through art, Sjödahl questioned norms and society's conventions, often with a certain undertone of humor. The exhibition was, of course, shown the painting Vår i Hallonbergen, 1972, with Munch's figure from Skriet teasingly placed in a concrete suburb – an image of the isolated toddler mother and suburban prince who has almost become an icon for the 1970s. It was also the work selected for the exhibition poster. The retrospective exhibition ranged from the clearly political works of the 1960s and 1970s across the landscapes to the more abstract paintings of recent years.

Hilma af Klint

As the 21st century approached, the question arose as to how best to portray a millennium in the artistic field. The choice fell to Hilma af Klint, who had both a historical bearing and a topicality in the present. After being virtually unknown for most of the 20th century (including writing a will claiming that her art could not be shown until 20 years after her death), she was recognized as one of the pioneers of modernism at the exhibition The Spiritual in Art – Abstract Painting 1890–1985 at the Los Angeles County Museum. A few years later, in 1989, Moderna Museet exhibited her together with Kandinsky. The exhibition at Liljevalchs in 1999 showed for the first time ever the paintings for the temple as a whole, no less than 193 paintings added between 1906 and 1915. Hilma af Klint's work has since been exhibited at several exhibitions around the world, the most high-profile – to date – being at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2019. Over 600,000 visitors saw the exhibition, which is an audience record for the museum. In art history, Kandinsky and Malevich have stood as the pioneers of abstract painting, but thanks in part to the above exhibitions, Hilma af Klint has now taken a well-deserved place among these foreground figures.

Barbro Bäckström

Barbro Bäckström has mainly come to be associated with her mesh sculptures of bodies in rebar or iron cloth that she started making in the early 1960s. In her work, she often had a mental dialogue with other artists, both from art history and now alive. The then head of Liljevalchs, Bo Nilsson, therefore chose to exhibit another artist, John Coplans, in parallel with Barbro Bäckström's work. Like Barbro Bäckström, Coplans used the human body in his artistry, but not as sculpture but in photographic form. In addition to sculptures, the exhibition also featured paintings and drawings from the 1960s until the artist's death in 1990.

Ernst Billgren. Respite.

When Ernst Billgren had his exhibition at Liljevalchs, his first retrospective, with works that stretched from the early 1980s until 2000, he was pleased to note that he was more rewritten that year than then Prime Minister Goran Persson. As the all-artist he is, the exhibition covered many different media: painting, sculpture, graphics, film, design, photography, mosaics, glass with several techniques. During the exhibition, henna tattoo, body painting in an exotic setting, was able to be participated in the workshop. The name of the exhibition created a conflict with Sveriges Radio's P1 who worried that the spiritual morning program Andrum would be degenerate and connected to Ernst Billgren's exhibition at Liljevalchs of the same name. The artist himself claimed that it was rather seabirds that he was referring to.

Andy Warhol. The Late Work.

The exhibition featured Warhol's late production, from 1972 until his death in 1987, about 300 photos, paintings, prints, portraits and more. Pop art was then a closed chapter and Warhol stepped forward as a more experimental artist than ever before. Some of the walls of the exhibition were covered with Warhol wallpaper: Mao, Self-portrait, Fish and just as Warhol himself wanted, his own works hung on these wallpapered walls. Andy Warhol was one of the first to use images from the media – mainly photographs from newspapers – in his work, but he was also an almost tireless photographer. In thousands of images, he has depicted his own life, his friends and colleagues from the art world and jetset circles in New York. A selection of these were shown at the exhibition. The then head of Liljevalchs, Bo Nilsson, about the exhibition: "Many people have not seen what Warhol did in the last years of his career. After the assassination attempt (Valerie Solana's attempted murder in 1968, reds note), the motives and thoughts behind the images changed; it became more black and more serious. Andy Warhol became more political and when his friends started dying in the 1980s of AIDS, addiction and other things, it manifested itself in art." This was a walking exhibition on display in Düsseldorf, Liechtenstein, Stockholm and Lyon. During the four months of the exhibition in Stockholm, it drew a record audience.

Alberto Giacometti & Bror Hjorth

The proposal to exhibit Bror Hjorth and Alberto Giacometti together was given to exhibition commissioner Mårten Castenfors after seeing a cartoon portrait of Hjorth depicting Giacometti. The two artists had studied together for Antoine Bourdelle in Paris in 1922. The exhibition was made possible by the Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation in Paris, which has ownership of most of Giacometti's works. One requirement of the foundation was that the works of the two artists could not be displayed in the same room, "because you cannot compare artists with each other, all artists are unique and must be seen from themselves."

Sophie Tottie as Fiction Is No Joke

When Sophie Tottie put on her mid-career exhibition at Liljevalchs, it was her biggest to date. Tottie's art revolves around existential issues such as philosophy and politics, science history and atomic physics, reason and speculation. In her works, she moves freely between different media such as painting, drawing, video, photography and objects. The exhibition began already outside Liljevalchs with long, white weasers in synthetics with red letters or images forming a line that continued into the first exhibition hall. Some of the works were painted directly on the walls of liljevalch's halls.


In the summer of 2009, Liljevalchs opened the doors to this year's summer exhibition with Ikea, the year after the company's 50th anniversary. The choice to exhibit Ikea was unconventional and the exhibition was discussed vigorously in the press and media, not least in view of Ikea's participation in the exhibition work and their generous financial contribution. The purpose of Liljevalch was to highlight the very phenomenon of Ikea, its development and design. With roots in the folk home, Ikea has for a long time had an impact in some way for very many people. In addition to a chronological review of Ikea's history and products, the exhibition housed a vintage shop in the basement whose profits went to stadsmissionen. Seven major seminars discussed issues such as the environment, design and Ikea's relationship with the children.

Märta Måås-Fjetterström – Märta flies again!

The exhibition showed Märta Måås-Fjetterström's artistic development from the tapestries of youth in winding Art Nouveau style to later years' advanced designs. Walls and floors were covered with a selection of 150 unique works, from 1919 to 2009, created by the most well-known names of textile art and in recent years also by the younger generation of Swedish contemporary art as well as designers and architects. One of the walls of the sculpture hall became a "yarn wall", covered with the colour of thousands of wool yarn tangles from mmf's own colours. And in the middle of the exhibition, of course, a flying carpet floated in the finest rot.


Hemslöjden, the Swedish Handicraft Association's National Association, was formed a few years before Liljevalchs was completed and has exhibited there several times over the years: 1917, 1933, 1937, 1948, 1955, 1962, 1982 and in connection with the 100th anniversary in 2012. The jubilee exhibition included more than 900 works. The largest halls were titled Ser du löven for all trees where anyone could design their own leaf on a tree, a total of 2,000 leaves on 80 trees. During the exhibition, the leaves were auctioned on Tradera and the proceeds went to Vi forest tree plantings in Africa. This was an exhibition summer in the sign of the arts and crafts. In parallel with Hemslöjden at Liljevalchs, Slow art was shown at Nationalmuseum, Väv at the Nordic Museum and Lilli and Prinsen – 100 years of handicraft and textile art at Waldemarsudde.

August. A great exhibition.

One hundred years after August Strindberg passed away, the exhibition opened August. A great exhibition. In 12 Strindbergsrum they showed August Strindberg as an artist, playwright, debater, alchemist and human being. Liljevalchs also introduced a living Strindberg to the exhibition. "Liljevalch's communication work with a highly living August Strindberg – a person in our own time, here and now – attracted the attention of many. Before and during Liljevalch's large Strindberg exhibition in autumn 2012, we let August himself speak: He tweeted and Facebooked from his mythical Occult Diary (1896–1908), where each post was published on the right date but with a little over a hundred years of delay. He also appeared on Liljevalch's web and in the exhibition – in both spectacular and everyday environments that our visitors themselves placed him in. Last but not least, he looked down from large billboards around the country. Questions about the image of August – which was used in all the aforementioned contexts – collapsed into Liljevalchs. Is that the real August? And if it's not August, who's his doppelganger? How have you done it? We kept it all a secret, but right towards the end of the exhibition – which was also awarded one of the museum industry's finest prizes, "Exhibition of the Year 2012" – we told: We found an August look-alike. The first step was to find and photograph a person whose facial features would remind as much as possible of Strindberg's appearance, so that the processing – the retouch – would then be as small as possible. But where and how would we find an August look-alike? Our photographer Mattias Lindbäck thought. And happened to look in the mirror... Voila! A clearly useful resemblance to Strindberg! With the help of the Royal Library, we had access to a variety of original photographs by August Strindberg and this is where we made the selection of the publishers for our own pictures – a couple of photos of August in our 30s."

Utopian Bodies. Fashion Looks Forward.

The exhibition was planned for two years and was one of the most expensive productions in Liljevalch's history. The goal was to make a fashion exhibition that went beyond "displaying clothes on hangers"– where new Swedish fashion was linked to international greats. London-based fashion curator Sofia Hedman and designer Serge Martynov provided the concept, spectacular design and set design. The exhibition won the award as "Exhibition of the Year 2015" with the motivation:" With several important cultural, social and societal issues fundamentally accompanied by finding opportunities and creating their own visionary future in this magnificent exhibition. With a sense of touch, a creative artistic design has been created about how fashion can be used to create a sustainable future."

Lars Lerin

Lars Lerin is one of our most beloved artists, which was evident in the number of visitors to the exhibition in the summer of 2018, no less than 189,347 people saw the exhibition. Even so, the figures from the Mexican exhibition in 1952, which still holds the audience record with its 212,431 visitors, were not surpassed. With over 100 works on display from 2002 onwards, it was Lerins' largest exhibition to date in Stockholm. Based on Lerin's imagery, poet and Tranströmer laureate Eva Runefelt wrote 22 poems in the exhibition catalogue.

Hilding Linnqvist. To be an artist.

The exhibition Becoming an Artist presented the artist's early years and the way to be hailed as a great painter. Several of the works in the exhibition were shown at Liljevalchs back in 1916 and were met in some newspapers with very viscritical and critical reviews. Contrary to today's critics who instead described some of the paintings as "enchantingly good". Unfortunately, the exhibition could only be open for 23 days due to the current pandemic.

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