Peder Balke (1804-1887) is one of the most enigmatic and original artists from the Romantic movement in the Nordics. Of great importance was a journey to the Northernmost parts of his native Norway in 1832. The desolate, Arctic nature came to provide him with motifs and inspiration throughout his career – and he thus became one of the first artists to depict this landscape. However, to convey his impressions of this striking nature, he always sought new ways to express himself and developed his own, experimental way of painting. He is sometimes regarded as a pioneer of 20th century Avant-Garde.
Balke travelled widely, both to educate himself and to find new markets. In Dresden, he was a student of his compatriot Johan Christian Dahl and also became acquainted with the works of the German Romantic Caspar David Friedrich. Later, in Paris, the artist received a commission from Louis Philippe, King of the French. Balke also stayed for longer periods in Stockhlm and in London, and also visited Helsinki briefly.
In his own country, Balke was for a long time ignored, only to be gradually rediscovered during the 20th century. For the past decade or so, his art has gained international recognition.
Ph.D Knut Ljøgodt is the director of the Nordic Institute of Art and co-curator of “Peder Balke: The Spell of the Arctic”. He has curated or co-curated several exhibitions on this artist, and is the author of Peder Balke: Sublime North: Works from The Gundersen Collection (Skira, Milan 2020).