The Swedish Underground Exhibition at the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair
Saturday, Sep 08, 2018 - Sunday, Sep 09, 2018
Brooklyn Expo Center
72 Noble Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222
Organized and curated by Johan Kugelberg, The Swedish Underground Exhibition is the largest-known assembly of artwork and photography produced by the leading Swedish and Scandinavian artists of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture. All the major artistic voices are represented here, including Carl Johan De Geer, Marie-Louise De Geer, Lena Svedberg, Lars Hillersberg, and Öyvind Fahlström. At the center of the exhibition is Carl Johan De Geer. The Swedish artist and photographer was one of the leading figures of the 1960s underground scene in Stockholm. Born in 1938, he grew up on a country estate with his grandparents, and entered art school in the late 1950s. In the 1960s De Geer began taking photographs with his Leica M4, capturing the monotone grit of everyday Swedish life, preserving a culture where Stockholm bohemians of the time lived, raised families, and made art. De Geer’s photography serves as the visual record of this era of societal and cultural upheaval in otherwise conservative Sweden. As De Geer matured over his career, he became accomplished not only as a photographer, but as a filmmaker, silkscreen printmaker, painter and illustrator, novelist, and vibrant textile designer and pattern maker. His textile designs became the decor of many bohemian homes of the 60s, and thereby the backdrops to many of De Geer’s own photographs. De Geer, like many artists of the time, became associated with Galleri Karlsson, started in 1964 by Bo Karlsson, which became the epicenter of the Swedish countercultural movement, exhibiting artists such as De Geer and his wife, Marie-Louise De Geer, an accomplished artist in her own right, Lars Hillersberg, Lena Svedberg, Ulf Rahmberg, Anders Petersen, and Ture Sjölander.
In 1968 De Geer, Svedberg, Hillersberg, Rahmberg, and Leif Katz became involved with the leading Swedish underground publication of the time, Puss magazine. Progressive in both the political and sexual realm, Puss quickly became a satire-driven art zine that incited rancor among both liberals and conservatives, employing anti- capitalist and anti-USA rhetoric while at the same time focusing on the increasingly political correctness of the left. The work of Lars Hillersberg (1937-2004) often employed humor and caricature to controversial effect in his own political cartoons. Öyvind Fahlström served as New York correspondent, covering the city’s underground art scene for the zine, which continued publication until 1974. The greatest political artist associated with Puss was Lena Svedberg (1946-1972). A compulsive draftswoman, she usually avoided gallery shows, making her work difficult to sell; and her motifs became so disturbing as to further limit those who appreciated her work at the time. Svedberg committed suicide at the age of 26. De Geer’s documentary, “I Remember Lena Svedberg,” is a masterful and melancholic tribute. The exhibition contains several original Svedberg artworks, as well as reproductions in prints and publications such as Puss. The Swedish Underground Exhibition is one of the finest examples of the cultural shifts in postwar art, illustrating the conflux of high and low; popular and fine; performance and the image; and the periodical as work of art.