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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art and utopian nationalism
Many people have written about how art is used in a nationalist context, just as music and literature were used throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to create highly idealized images of ethnic groups and emergent nation-states seeking to gain cultural and political independence. In Scandinavia, two regional schools of art -- in Finland and Norway -- were in tune with...
Published on September 10, 2003 by Stephen Taylor

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not enough Color Plates
I am a big fan of this genre - and the book is well written --but hey- where are the color images? There are dozens in black and white (?) but only about 8 in color. I understand that this is an art history book that is heavy on analysis..but color images are a MUST. I would not have purchased this book if I had understood how crappy the images are--what a shame. This is...
Published on June 25, 2011 by A. Galer


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art and utopian nationalism, September 10, 2003
By 
Stephen Taylor (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s (Hardcover)
Many people have written about how art is used in a nationalist context, just as music and literature were used throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to create highly idealized images of ethnic groups and emergent nation-states seeking to gain cultural and political independence. In Scandinavia, two regional schools of art -- in Finland and Norway -- were in tune with the mainstream of European nationalist art, always fascinated by questions of ethnicity. (Neither Finland nor Norway become independent until after 1900, from Russia and Sweden respectively). In those countries, artists like Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Erik Werenskiold chose to focus on earthy folk themes in order to emphasize the cultural distinctiveness of Finns and Norwegians.
In Sweden, however, nationalist art took a different turn. Sweden had already been independent for several hundred years, and Swedish artists like Richard Bergh, Karl Nordström, Anders Zorn and Carl Larsson were thus less concerned about their country's ethnic uniqueness than about issues like social equality, women's rights and the environment. While "Swedishness" played a very important role in their art, the concept was a highly progressive and socially-conscious one, in no way narrowly chauvinistic. "Swedishness" embodied these artists' ideas about what kind of country Sweden must become and how to create an ideal Sweden.
As Michelle Facos argues in this book, the 1890s were the cradle of modern Sweden, a decade that gave birth to the social-utopian ideals that make this country today so distinct. The emphasis in turn-of-the-century art that was placed on concepts like human rootedness in the land, pride in the nation's social accomplishments, and the potentials of peace rather than war led to a vigorous national regeneration in Sweden after 1900. And as Facos points out, "the impact of these artists' endeavors on the taste and values of twentieth-century Sweden cannot be overstated." Even in the decorative arts, Swedes experienced a kind of regeneration. For as the contemporary writer William Morris wrote, "external beauty is a symbol of a decent and reasonable life."
In "Nationalism & the Nordic Imagination," Facos looks at some of the themes that Swedish "National Romantic" painters dealt with during the 1890s. Grounded in ideas like primitivism, rootedness, symbolism, and the value of historical painting, Swedish art was also part of a larger Scandinavian and European context, which Facos explores, relating Swedish art to the work of painters like Gauguin, Puvis de Chavannes, and Van Gogh.
The book is very well written and accessible, and recommended to anyone interested in art history or Scandinavia. Five stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading to Understand Modern Sweden, February 16, 2005
By 
Thomas F. Ogara (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s (Hardcover)
While this book is ostensibly about Swedish art, it really delves, sometimes rather offhandedly, into an investigation of the intellectual underpinnings of modern Sweden. Particularly enlightening is the perspective it throws regarding why Sweden, as an ethnically homogeneous country undergoing a major shift from an agrarian to an urbanized society and with a lively interest, not to say an obsession, with its own cultural roots, never went down the same road that Germany went down after 1870.

As such the book is worthwhile for anybody interested in the development of modern Swedish culture, and in fact it is eminently more readable than most other books I've seen on the subject, while still being authoritative.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not enough Color Plates, June 25, 2011
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This review is from: Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s (Hardcover)
I am a big fan of this genre - and the book is well written --but hey- where are the color images? There are dozens in black and white (?) but only about 8 in color. I understand that this is an art history book that is heavy on analysis..but color images are a MUST. I would not have purchased this book if I had understood how crappy the images are--what a shame. This is such a wonderful genre of art, and the colors are magnificent in the real paintings.

I would not buy this book unless you have a great visual imagination.

With all the fine minds, and excellent research behind this project..I wonder what they were thinking to publish a book about beautifully colored paintings..in black in white. The editor should be fired.
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2.0 out of 5 stars For serious professional ethnics, April 13, 2014
By 
NYCskier (New York City, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s (Hardcover)
A Ph.d thesis; so, peer reviewed for accuracy but not for literacy. The illustrations are useful but mostly muddy B&W.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why are the images so small and in black and white?, August 19, 2009
This review is from: Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s (Hardcover)
You can't possibly get an idea of what the author asserts with the tiny black and white images throughout. There are so few good books on these painters available in the States, so I really have little to relate to what the author puts forth in her text.
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Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s
Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s by Michelle Facos (Hardcover - April 10, 1998)
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