Þorvaldur Skúlason 1906-1984
Þorvaldur Skúlason is an important pioneerin Icelandic contemporary art in the 20th century. In the 1930s he was a trailblazer of the generation that turned its back on the dominant landscape tradition, portraying instead human beings and their immediate environment with a new formal approach. He was a member of the new generation of artists that emerged at that time, including e.g. Jón Engilberts, Gunnlaugur Scheving, Snorri Arinbjarnar and Jóhann Briem. The formal structure of these artists’ works is diverse, and the emphasis in their art differs. Yet all display a strong tendency towards subjective interpretation, that entails inter alia simplification and compression of the subject. In the Icelandic context that spelled the end of traditional realism, where the painting was primarily a re-creation of visual and emotional experience. Þorvaldur commenced his art studies in Oslo in the late 1920s under Axel Revold, a pupil of Matisse; and Þorvaldur’s works from around 1930 display clear influence from Matisse’s colour theory. Þorvaldur lived in Paris 1930–33, studying at the Académie scandinave under Marcel Gromaire and attending Fernand Léger’s school. In the mid-1930s, when he was living in Copenhagen, his works were characterised by a post-Cubist formal approach; the art of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque had influenced his art, with its geometric simplification.