We explore this question with two contemporary artists, the photographer Monika Macdonald and the painter Clara Gesang Gottowt, and the programme curator Karin Malmquist, who reflect on the seductive beauty of these images from long ago.
Visual culture around the previous turn of the century
Photography saw the emergence of the pictorialist movement that emphasised the craft itself, and aspired to a new, artistic form of photography inspired by impressionism and naturalism. Various complex methods for developing and printing were devised to “paint” on the photo paper, and works from this period are typically blurred, soft-focused and tonally exquisite.
In art, painters embarked on new, exciting paths, inspired by Japanese art, art nouveau contours and symbolist ideas. In Sweden, national romanticism grew popular through artists such as Gustaf Fjaestad, while Eugen Jansson and others developed a style of mood painting that became characteristic of the period.
About the participants
Monika Macdonald is a photographer practicing in Stockholm. Her works, which she presents in a combination of books and exhibitions, often consist of series of staged photographs, where she looks for the breaking point, the uncontrollable and the fragility of being. She seeks to portray the human search for belonging, vulnerability, flight or inner resistance.
was born in Stockholm but now lives and works in Lund.
Her paintings intuitively deal with psychological states and reminiscences of nature. Through a process where the application and removal of paint are of equal importance, she produces images using the knowledge process of painting. Her works are often in a state of appearing or dispersing, like memories or dreams. Gesang-Gottowt graduated from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in 2013 and has since then exhibited at museums and galleries in Sweden and internationally.