27.2.12

The Swedish Institute




Behind this dark entrance in the Marais area is a paved court… and a 16th century building, “Hôtel de Marle” (hôtel = private mansion). It was bought by the Swedish State in 1965, was renovated during several years and opened to public in 1971 as the “Le Centre Culturel Suédois”, today  L’Institut Suédois” (The Swedish Institute).


In the summer and during the day it looks different. You are welcome there to see expositions, have a coffee with some Swedish pastry… or just visit.



I went there the other evening, once again with my friends from the “Association Aritistique Suédoise à Paris” (see previous post) for an exhibition by some Swedish “comic strips” artists.

“Comic strips” is possibly not the best way to translate what in French is called “bandes dessinées”; this kind of art is today definitely far from always comic, funny. “Drawn strips” is maybe a better translation and what is produced today must often rather be considered as “graphic novels". There is a big market for this in France. In January there is an annual festival in Angoulème in the south-west of France, the biggest one in Europe, with several hundred thousands of visitors and where several thousands of cartoonists and other professionals meet, expose…

This year a group of Swedish artists made a special exhibition in Angoulème with August Strindberg as a common theme. This exhibition can now be seen at the Swedish Institute in Paris and that was the reason for our visit.

Do I need to say something about August Strindberg? If you wish you can go here, but just a few words: Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, 1849-1912. The hundredth anniversary of his death is thus now celebrated, including in France (expositions, theatre plays…). Strindberg spent several years in Paris and its surroundings, wrote some of his works in French, became befriended with painters and was portrayed by some of them like Eduard Munch, Carl Larsson (see previous post), Anders Zorn (see previous post)


… and he was a great painter himself, with a limited production, often of with the sea as motive.  At least two of his paintings can be seen at the Orsay Museum.


One of the exhibiting cartoonists, whom we met, Knut Larsson, was executing another portrait of Strindberg on a wall of the stairs of the Institute. Knowing Strindberg’s excited life and excited sea paintings, it’s easy to understand why he portrayed him emerging from a wild sea.


We were guided around to see the works of the other participating artists.


Maybe some particular words about what our guide, Knut Larsson, presented at this exhibition: Strindberg much appreciated a painting by the Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin, “Die Totelinsel” (Isle of the Dead). Böcklin made five versions during the years 1880-86. The one you see below once “belonged” to Hitler and is now exposed in Berlin. One was lost during WWII, the other ones can be seen at Basle, Leipzig and NYC (MMA). These paintings later inspired a lot of people (Dali, Ernst, Rachmaninoff…), but already in 1907 Strindberg wrote a never finished play with the same name and this is what inspired Knut Larsson. There is an obvious link between this Strindberg’s unfinished play and the finished one, also from 1907, “The Ghost Sonata”, which is supposed to end with the image of “Die Totelinsel” and to be accompanied by Beethoven’s “Ghost Trio”.


At last, we went up the beautiful stairs to the upper floor for a glass of wine … and we could of course also admire the beauty of the room as such, decorated by paintings (permanently) lent by Swedish museums and institutes.


Perhaps a special glance at the portrait of René Descartes (Cartesius), painted during his short stay in Stockholm with Queen Christina, before he died there in 1650 of pneumonia during the Swedish winter…. and the ceiling, which was one of the nice surprises during the renovation of the building.



21 comments:

Maria O. Russell said...

Un artìculo fantàstico, interesantìsimo...

Thérèse said...

What a post!
What a marvelous idea on how to present August Strindberg! I must admit I did not know much about him except for his name and his portrait following an exhibit of Edvard Munch in Caen a few weeks ago.

Vagabonde said...

This is a great building and looking at an exhibit there must be especially nice. I did not know about August Strindberg but you give a very through explanation about him and his art. I like all the renditions of his portrait – he certainly had an unusual hairstyle. Un post très intéressant Peter.

Olivier said...

j'aime bien les photos de nuit, surtout la première , qui a cote mystère de Paris.

ALAIN said...

Les dessins de Knut Larsson sont très originaux. Je ne connaissais pas cet auteur suédois de BD.
La maison de la Suède, c'est vraiment très chicos !

Cezar and Léia said...

Another great reportage Peter, congratulations!
Léia

This is Belgium said...

I walked through there not so long ago and hate to have to admit that I did not know a thing about the Swedish link.
Grateful for this eye opener
Bonne journée
anni

Virginia said...

I have photographed your centre from outside the courtyard several times, but next visit we must go inside and have a look.

Judging from M. Strindberg's photographs, I don't think the cartoonists had to work too hard to give him a comical appearance! I do like his paintings very much.

Thanks for giving us an "insider's" tour today Peter,
V

Synne said...

How great that the rich Swedish culture has its own institute!

Ruby said...

very beautiful pictures. Cheers, Ruby!

ParisBreakfasts said...

at last a place I've been too!
I like the cafe attached also, though you may not bring in your own pastries.
We were chastised for doing so.
I'm crazy for BD but didn't know the Swedish had them as well!
who knew?

Honest Abe said...

Because it was about art and artists and because I just found your blog again, I decided to leave a comment. I did enjoy your post and all of the information that went with it.

Owen said...

A wealth of information... but we expect nothing less when coming here. Hope to see this place, will add it to the list.

I was able, thanks to you, to see the exhibition at the Grand Palais of the Plans et Reliefs, just before it closed. Was familiar with them from les Invalides, but it was a pleasure to see them in the much more spacious setting at the Grand Palais.

Rakesh Vanamali said...

I liked the doorway very much.

Cergie said...

"Hôtel de Marle" c'est un beau nom et les photos du dessus montrent un cadre que ne renierait pas Eugène Sue...

Daniel said...

Merci de ton petit mot à mon encontre chez Cergie.
Tu prêche un convaincu !!!!
Bonne journée :))

claude said...

Merci pour la visite, Peter.

Bagman and Butler said...

Visiting your blog is like going to school except it is much more fun, I learn more, and there are no tests. Someday there should be an exhibition of your blogs -- except there probably isn't a building big enough.

arabesque said...

i definitely had fun reading this post, i'm also a fan of BD, not too much manga though, more on comics and i think most french bd artist are good. ^0^
one of my faves is Jolicoeur, bought her book when i was there, not sure if you've heard of her though.
oh! would love to see the Angouleme festival. ^-^
lovely courtyard inside,
i miss our sort-of forbidden to go inside the courtyard. ^0^
we actually did that one morning near Orsay and almost got caught! ha!

Trotter said...

I was 16 when I bought Miss Julie... and then Dance of Death... Good old times... ;)

Claudia said...

“Die Totelinsel” is one of my favourite paintings.