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Barbara Árnason

  • Year : 1952
  • Height : 115 cm
  • Width : 147 cm
  • Category : Málverk
  • Sub-category : Olíumálverk

Barbara Árnason was a highly versatile artist; her talents included painting in oils and watercolours, she was accomplished at drawing, illustrating and working in textiles, to name but a few. She was considered an especially sensitive interpreter of childish consciousness, as can be seen in her portraits of children, illustrations in children's books and last but not least, in murals she painted in Melaskóli primary school in Reykjavík in 1952–53. Of these, Björn Th. Björnsson writes in his art history: “for all of 1952, Barbara and Magnús [Á. Árnason, her husband] lived in Paris, but on their return she undertook her largest project until then – and actually still the largest – namely the decoration of an entire wall in the foyer of Melaskóli in Reykjavík. In this mural, which is al secco, she weaves together, like the mesh of a net, different aspects of a child’s life in school, at play, and during the summer holidays: the boys run amok and prepare for a fight, but in the background are roosters to parody them, just as ready for a rough and tumble; the little children wander through an enchanted forest, where all the leaves are numbers; and the older girls have formed a tight circle and whisper exciting secrets; the children are shown making hay, and chasing a calf in a country meadow. For decoration she uses musical notation, and open books flying through the air.” Björn continues: “Though the paintings tell a story, they are also a decoration in the real sense of the word. No attempt is made to disrupt the picture plane with an illusion of perspective or with the moulding of the colours, and furthermore the pictures have no framing beyond the boundaries of the wall. But, while Barbara here undertook a large work, in terms of metres, there is no essential difference between it and her smaller pieces.” (Björn Th. Björnsson: Íslenzk myndlist á 19. og 20. öld (Iceland Art in the 19th and 20th Centuries) II, p. 232). This painting, in the collection of the Reykjavik Art Museum, is one of her cartoons for the mural.

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