Otto G Carlsund

Born St. Petersburg 1897. Died in Stockholm 1948

Previous solo-shows at Galerie Bel'Art: 1988 and 1990

Compiled by Anders Wahlgren
Born in St. Petersburg where his father, Anton, was managing engineer at Emanuel Nobel’s engineering works. His mother, Gabrielle Tardif, had trained at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Attends the Catherine School and learns Russian, French and German. 

Moves with his mother and five siblings to Norrköping where they remain until 1916. His father spends periods working in St. Petersburg. Otto returns there in 1917 to work at the Swedish legation. Experiences the Russian revolution at first hand.

Military service with the Swedish Air Force. Automobile salesman and commercial artist at Automobilcentralen.

Studies drawing and graphic design in Dresden. Develops an interest in graphic design, poster art and advertising. Studies drypoint and etching with the well-known engraver Paul Höfer.

Moves to Oslo to study with Christian Krohg. Comes into contact with the radical gallery Der Sturm and its head Herwarth Walden. Exhibits in Oslo.

Moves to Paris and Fernand Léger’s Académie Moderne. Exhibits at the Swedish arts centre Maison Watteau with Léger and some other pupils including Franciska Clausen, Erik Olson and Waldemar Lorentzon.

Through Léger he comes into contact with the purist painter Amédée Ozenfant and the architect Le Corbusier. Develops an interest in mural painting. Produces designs for murals at an observatory. With other Léger pupils he takes part in the comprehensive exhibition L’Art d’aujourd’hui in Paris. With Franciska Clausen he meets Piet Mondrian. 

Produces a design for decorating a cinema in Paris; sketches and ten oil paintings. Only one is realized at full scale, three metres high for the Regina cinema in Stockholm in 1934. Becomes a member of the Société des Artistes Indépendants and exhibits with them for several years. Takes part in the Société Anonyme exhibition at the Brooklyn Art Museum. Meets the Polish actress Getrude Welcker whom he marries. Paints his msterpiece Den kubistiska stolen [The Cubist Chair]. 

Solo exhibition at the Galerie Mots et Images in Paris with a catalogue preface by Fernand Léger. Travels to New York and exhibits at the Jane Heap Gallery, sells nine watercolors and donates three oil paintings to Katherine Dreier. Writes art criticism under a penname including a presentation of Piet Mondrian’s art in a Swedish newspaper. Continues to paint in an increasingly abstract form. Produces a series of mural designs for a dining room, library and music room. Paints a painting in the bar of La Coupole in Paris.

Exhibition at Galleri Modern in Stockholm with Nils Dardel, Einar Jolin and Isaac Grünewald. In the autumn at Göteborgs Konsthall with GAN, Erik Olson and Christian Berg. Works in Léger’s studio enlarging the master’s designs to earn money. Produces naivistic compositions including Den lyckliga familjen [The Happy Family] inspired by Henri Rousseau.

Starts experimenting with compositions based on his reactions to music. Becomes a member of the Association Artistique Les Surindépendants and meets artists Theo van Doesburg, Léon Tutundjian, Jean Helion and Marcel Wantz. 

Together they form the group Art Concret.Otto G. Carlsund paints two large murals entitled Rapid for the Lilla Paris restaurant at the Stockholm Exhibition. Returns in August as the organizer of a major Art Concret exhibition at the Café Puck featuring some 30 international artists. Remains in Sweden because of problems in connection with the exhibition. Moves to his parents’ summer residence south of Stockholm. Is commissioned to produce designs for decorating the student union building at the Royal Institute of Engineering in Stockholm. 

Begins his career as a writer on art in the periodicals Fönstret, Konstrevy and several other publications. Paints his first portrait commission. Produces cubist drawings and geometrical compositions for Spektrum.

Starts work on the so-called thousand-line drawings in pencil and Indian ink. Does sculptural portraits and imaginary figures but also satires of the emergent fascism.

Produces his first surrealist work of art which is concluded with the painting Den kubistiska harlekinen [The Cubist Harlequin]. Preface to Fernand Léger’s exhibition at Galleri Modern in Stockholm. Now living at Klara Norra Kyrkogata 7, where he fits out a little studio. Tries to turn himself into a company in order to earn a living. 

Works for a film company, Svensk Filmindustri, as a scene painter and produces decorations for the Regina cinema. Produces book covers and other graphic designs. Takes up purist painting inspired by Bach’s music in a mural project. 

Visits Paris for the first time in seven years to research an article on the world exhibition Expo 37 for the art periodical Konstrevy. Publishes a monograph on the painter Anshelm Schultzberg. Produces illustrations for books and magazines as well as restaurant menus.

Marries Margareta Frölich, the sister of a childhood friend from Norrköping. Moves to Valhallavägen 54.

Starts the art periodical Konstvärlden which is published more or less regularly until 1945. He acts as editor throughout this period.

Becomes the permanent art critic of the newspaper Aftontidningen. Travels round the country and is much in demand as a lecturer and art educator.

Paints Hommage à Mondrian after the latter’s death in New York.

Chairman of Konstnärsklubben. 

Takes part in an exhibition arranged by Aino and Alvar Aalto at the Thurestam gallery in Stockholm. After twenty years he has a solo exhibition at Konstnärshuset in Stockholm with concrete designs for murals. Problems with his lungs from smoking cigarettes. 

Admitted to the Sabbatsberg hospital. Right up to the end he works on sketches for large mobiles which would enliven the dull walls of the hospital. Dies on July 25.