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February 11 - August 20

60 years of LÁ Art Museum, Highlights of the collection

The museum has a unique collection of approximately 550 works of art, from the greatest masters of Icelandic art to lesser-known artists. Founded in 1963, it was the first art museum in Iceland to open outside the capital. Bjarnveig Bjarnadóttir and her sons Loftur and Bjarni Markús may justly be said to have laid the cornerstone for the LÁ Art Museum with a generous donation of works of art from their collection in 1963. Their initial gift comprised 41 works of art, and they continued to donate works to the museum until 1986 – when the collection amounted to 75 works of art. It contains works of the greatest masters of Icelandic painting in the first half of the twentieth century: 19 paintings by Ásgrímur Jónsson, and works by Kjarval, Gunnlaugur Scheving, Jón Stefánsson and Þorvaldur Skúlason among others. Bjarnveig’s taste is noteworthy, as is her sense of new trends, as shown in her later gifts. She paid attention to the work of abstract artists (Hörður Ágústsson and Kjartan Guðjónsson) but also devoted a lot of effort to the works of Icelandic women, such as Björg Þorsteinsdóttir, Þorbjörg Höskuldsdóttir and Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir.

Bjarnveig Bjarnadóttir (1905-1993) was from south Iceland; her mother was from the farm of Skip near Stokkseyri and her father was from Skaftafell in the southeast. Bjarnveig was related to painter Ásgrímur Jónsson, and also to sculptor Einar Jónsson. She covered the walls of her home with works of art; in those days it was highly unusual for a single mother to devote all her savings to buying art. In a speech she gave at the LÁ Art Museum in 1974, Bjarnveig said: “These paintings are given wholeheartedly and with the wish that the gift will be a cultural asset for the county and a stimulus for future generations.”

Two hundred wooden carvings and small statues of marble or bone by Halldór Einarsson (1893-1977) make up a large part of the museum’s collection, or about one third of it. He was born on the farm of Brandshús in the Gaulverjabær district. At the age of twenty-nine he headed abroad, and he lived in the United States for forty- three years. He moved back home in 1965 and four years later he bequeathed all his works to the LÁ Art Museum along with ten thousand US dollars. Halldór worked as a woodcarver in Chicago and lived most of his life in an isolated place out in the

woods, where he cultivated an interest in animal and plant life. “I could talk to these animals – and the birds too – and they understood me” he later said in an interview. We show his works that reveal to us his deep understanding of nature and spirit.

The focus will be on these trailblazers who made the LÁ Art Museum a reality.

In addition, the museum will show new works that were donated to the museum in 2022 by artists and the Íslandsbanki bank, including two by Ásgrímur Jónsson, and others by Þorbjörg Höskuldsdóttir, Jóhannes Kjarval, Gunnlaugur Scheving, Jón Þorleifsson and Jón Engilberts.

The aim is to use the time during the anniversary year to restore frames and works where necessary, carry out research and take new photographs of the works, and also to publish an exhibition catalogue with a selection of works from the museum’s collection.

The exhibition is on show from February 11th – August 20th 2023.

Curators: Kristín Scheving and Zsóka Leposa.

GPS points

N63° 59' 46.982" W21° 11' 6.057"


Austurmörk 21, Hveragerðisbær, Iceland