Listasafn Reykjavíkur / Reykjavik Art Museum

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Decade

Ásmundur Sveinsson

Galdramaður

Year
1946
Height
68.5 cm
Width
45 cm
Category
Skúlptúr
Sub-category
Málmskúlptúr

Location: Ásmundarsafn sculpture garden. This sculpture was made by Ásmundur in Reykjavík in 1946. Initially made in plaster of Paris, it was later cast in bronze. The artist has here abandoned the traditional naturalistic approach; the formal language is more reminiscent of shapes and phenomena from nature – a landscape eroded by weather and wind. As in various other pieces of this period, Ásmundur’s theme is drawn from Icelandic folklore. We do not know whether the artist intended to depict a specific sorcerer, and hence we must interpret it as having a broader meaning. Scholar Sigurður Nordal (1886-1974) wrote in his Book of Folktales: “Sorcerers had to be trained in their arts at the Black School [the Sorbonne in Paris], or learn from older sorcerers, or from books such as Gráskinna or Rauðskinna. They became learned or wise, or knew further than the end of their nose, knew more than the Lord’s Prayer, etc. And they applied their talents for specific purposes, very often far from admirable; so before long stories were being told that they were unpopular, and were punished severely.”

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