Zorn under the surface
May 18 – October 1 2023
At the turn of last century, Anders Zorn was among Europe’s most celebrated artists. Kings, presidents, financiers, and cultural figures lined up to have their portraits painted by the famous Swede. His pictures of bathing women won wide acclaim, and his etchings commanded prices higher than those of any other artist. Today, Zorn might not be as well-known as before, at least not outside of Sweden, but those who encounter his paintings are still fascinated by his brilliant technique, and the ease with which he seemed to create his works. It is as if the paintings were made without effort.
This exhibition offers a broad exposé of Anders Zorn’s artistry. It also shines a spotlight on what lies under the surface of the famous works, i.e., Zorn’s technique and materials. X-rays, pigment analyses, sketches and photographs give an exciting insight into the process that led from idea to finished image. It shows that paintings which give the impression of improvisation were in fact preceded by countless sketches and studies, artistic considerations, and deep knowledge of the nature of the materials in use. For Zorn, art was a craft that had to be learned from scratch and in all aspects; he proved himself capable of everything and in any technique.
The exhibition is to a great extent based on art historian Emma Jansson’s research on Zorn’s technique, presented in a doctoral thesis at Stockholm University 2022. For the spouses Anders and Emma Zorn supporting scientific research was an important endeavor. It is with that same spirit the Zorn Museum still operates today.