Sandzéns from the Sandzén
November 14, 2008 – February 14, 2009
Hyle Family Gallery
One of the most important additions to the permanent collection of the last five years is Birger Sandzén’s 1893 oil painting River with Trees (featured in the fall 2004 InSight). The Beach Museum of Art purchased this work in 2004 with funds made available by long-time supporters Jack and Joann Goldstein and Barbara Wilson. Sandzén made the painting the year before he arrived to the United States from Sweden to teach at Lindsborg’s Bethany College. River with Trees is now the earliest Sandzén work in the Beach Museum of Art, joining more than 130 of the artist’s paintings and prints acquired since the late 1920s.
From the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg comes an exhibition that provides a context for the Beach Museum of Art’s Sandzén collection. Sandzéns from the Sandzén, a display of approximately twenty-five works, traces the artist’s early to mid-career biography and paintings. The exhibition has been organized by Sandzén Gallery curator Ron Michael, who has been exploring the artist’s contributions to international and regional culture for more than 11 years.
Michael’s selection of paintings emphasizes Sandzén’s career from the 1890s through the 1920s. The artist trained in Sweden and France before arriving in Lindsborg, from where he exerted a tremendous influence on Kansas art students, art organizations, and public schools. Sandzén’s gift as an educator equaled his artistic skill and output. He created more than 2600 oil paintings, 500 watercolors, and 300 print designs (totaling some 33,000 impressions).
Although it includes portraits and still-lifes, “Sandzéns from the Sandzén” emphasizes the well-composed and vibrantly hued landscapes for which Sandzén is best known. The selection provides a tour of regions that found a home in the artist’s work, including the waterways and hills of Kansas. The exhibition also provides a walk-through of the stylistic turns Sandzén took in his art. Paintings from the 1890s (including the aforementioned River with Trees and related 1894Landscape [shown here]) reveal a debt to Swedish romanticism. In work from the teens Sandzén viewed the land through a pointillist lens, while the 1920s paintings for which he is sometimes most favored demonstrate an expressionist intensity in color and brushwork.
“Sandzéns from the Sandzén” has been organized by the Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery in collaboration with the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.