Sundvall, Gösta (1900-1957)

Sundvall, Gösta (1900-1957)
Sundvall, Gösta (1900-1957)

Swedish artist Gösta Sundvall painted with vivacity and modernity very in tune with developments in Swedish art during the early 20th century.

Sundvall, like many other Swedish artists, began his education by treading the path through the preparatory Technical School to reach the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm. Following his studies, he became employed in restorative and decorative painting. He worked for a time under the celebrated interior painter Olle Hjortzberg (1872-1859). Sundvall often lent his skills to the walls of castles, churches, and large, municipal buildings.

Sundvall’s work shows experimentation and interest in a variety of styles. Art across Europe, including in Sweden, was at this time being taken over by the Avant-Garde. New approaches which challenged the classical status quo of art were becoming more and more common. Seeds laid in the 19th century were blossoming into luminous flowers of creation. From cubism to fauvism to expressionism, Swedish artists were presented with a wide array of styles from which to take inspiration.

Societies had popped up in defiance of the older institutions, set in their classical ways. Indeed, it seems Sundvall was a member of one such society, named ‘The Young,’ and often exhibited with other, more democratic and artistically liberal groups such as the General Art Association.

Sundvall’s brush cuts clean lines across the canvas to create scenes with depth and liveliness. There is something so stylised yet so evocatively alive in his scenes, many of which depict the countryside of Sweden or the holidays he often took in Europe, particularly to Spain. A mecca to other artists, Sundvall captures the lazy life in the streets of Cadaqués. There is a discerning use of colour. A door pops with a bold brush of blue, mouth-wateringly rich against the sun-starkened white walls of the building. Pale slabs of earthy tones rest under the prostrate figures of two gentlemen. Their dark clothing seems to absorb the light, making them even more eye-catching. Sundvall has seemingly weaved reality into an artistically stylised choice which takes inspiration from the spontaneity of impressionism and the bolder lines and statements of the avant-garde.

His representation of light is canny through his colour choices. The hazy heat of the Spanish countryside, the earth of baked clay, the sky of crystalline blue, stand in sharp contrast to a lusciously verdant, slate-grey skied scene of Sweden. In some pieces, Sundvall seems to forgo shadow and shade and presents his scenes with a glory of colour. A garden is alight with a verdant fire from which brightly petalled flowers rise confidently. A redwood house is in itself another blaze, set in the background. The whole piece is an inferno of fascinating choices which makes the painting seem timeless, constantly inspiring.

Sundvall’s contributions to Swedish art are not to be understated. He was very much part of the zeitgeist occurring in the art world towards more experimental, modern modes occurring in the early 20th century. Today, a number of his works are held in the National Museum in Stockholm.


Born in Stockholm, Sweden.


Studied at the Technical School, Stockholm.


Studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.


Travelled to Germany, and France.


Exhibited annually with the Swedish General Art Association.


Awarded a scholarship from the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. Solo exhibition held at Fahlcrantz Konstsalong, Stockholm.


Travelled to Spain.


Became a member of The Young.


Appointed chairman of The Young.


Exhibited at the 'Modern art in the Home’ exhibition at the Galerie Moderne.


Travelled to France.


Travelled to France.


Travelled to Spain.


Died in Stockholm, Sweden. Buried in Gustaf Vasa Cemetery.


Memorial exhibition held at The Young People’s Salon.

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