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 Erling Enger  (1899 - 1990)

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Lived/Active: Norway      Known for: landscape, seascape, nature subject painting

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Biography from Fine Arts Collection, Luther College:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Erling Enger was born in Faberg, Norway, May 17, 1899.  He was married to Aud Stockfleth in 1927.  He died February 12, 1990 in Oslo, Norway. He is survived by a son, Per Stockfleth and a daughter, Barbara.

Enger was educated at As Agricultural University, 1921-24, where he studied forestry and became a forester. In 1927, at the age of 29, he decided to study art instead and moved to Oslo.  He had loved drawing since he was a child.  Enger began his studies at Statens Håndverks og Kunstindustriskole.  Since his wife was employed, he decided to continue his art studies and attended the Academy of Art (Statens Kunstakademi) where he became a student of Axel Revold. He was influenced by Rolf Nesch, and worked with other Norwegian painters who were inspired by German Expressionists He made his debut in 1931.

After four years of education, he began to teach drawing, feeling he needed to be employed for the sake of his family.  In 1939, when his daughter was born, he decided to become a full-time artist. This decision sent him into a depression.  He struggled all his life to justify his choice: "Was the life of an artist really proper work?" He never rid himself of doubt concerning this issue.

Most of his paintings are motifs from farms, flowers and woods. In the late 1930’s, he coped with illness and adversity but resumed painting and exhibiting his work. His paintings have a humorous side. Some of his models are almost caricatures. Enger was considered a humorist in Norwegian art.  Love of nature is the main topic in his work, especially themes of winter, dark woods, snowy fields, or fall after the leaves have fallen. Many of the scenes in his works were inspired by the hills and lakes in and around Enebakk, where he had a cottage in the countryside near Oslo.

Enger received scholarships and made study tours to Germany, the Netherlands, France, England, Italy and other countries. His paintings have been purchased by art galleries and museums in Oslo, Gøteborg, Copenhagen, Reykavik and Stockholm as well as in America.

The seascape by Enger in the Fine Arts Collection (n.d.), was donated to Luther College by President Emeritus Elwin and Helen Farwell in 1984. They purchased it in Norway from a commercial gallery in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.

Notes and translation by Kari Gronningsaeter, Visiting Faculty in Scandinavian Studies at Luther College, from Illustrert Norsk Kunstnerleksikon, Oslo: Broen Bokhandel, 1956, and Norsk Biografisk Leksikon, Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget, 1999-2001.

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