Norwegian modernism and the village's decorative painting

Modern art was inspired by modern industrial culture and is often seen as an urban phenomenon. Equally, it stood in opposition and promoted a counterculture with roots in tradition. Not least, folk art was an important source of renewal. Artists who worked in the direction of expressionism and abstraction could refer to the village's decorative painting with their free treatment of form and color. Artists who sought a geometric and ornamental design language pointed to millennial traditions for this. Modernist artists countered claims that the art they produced had no historical roots.

The modernist painter Olav Strømme replaced his Bauhaus-inspired tubular furniture with percussion benches, cabinets and peasant antiques in the 1950s, at the same time as Sverre Fehn was responsible for the renovation of the artist's apartment. A strange paradox? No. Ever since the 1890s, we find that a number of our most modern-minded artists, not to mention architects and art collectors, found inspiration in peasant antiques and rose painting. Some even gathered in farmhouses. When Henrik Sørensen last visited his beloved living room in Smørklepp, he wrote in farewell that: "The rose painting will save the world!"

The Drammen Museum investigates this phenomenon in an exhibition where outstanding examples the museum has of rose-painted coffins, beer bowls and spouts, are brought together with works of art by Henrik Sørensen, Kai Fjell, Olav Strømme, Knut Rumohr, Jakob Weidemann, Gunnar Torvund, Mari Slaattelid and a a number of other artists, all of whom have been in dialogue with various forms of rural art. Emphasis is placed on the importance of decorative painting, but we also show the importance of impulses from rural art for the interior. A treat is the insight into the importance the painter Kristen Holbø had for the development through her friendship with the furniture manufacturer Lunde in Lillehammer. Several of Holbø's furniture will be shown in the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by professor of art history Øivind Storm Bjerke.