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 Oyvind Fahlstrom  (1928 - 1976)

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Lived/Active: New York / Brazil      Known for: mod figure-caricature, collage

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Ad Code: 2
Oyvind Fahlstrom
from Auction House Records.
World Trade Monopoly (B, large)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

The following was compiled and written by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California:


Although of Norwegian-Swedish parentage, Oyvind Fahlstrom was born on December 28, 1928 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and spent his childhood there.  In 1939 his parents sent him to Sweden.on holiday, and because of the war, he did not see them again until 1947.   From 1949 to 1952 he studied art history and archaeology, notable the Aztec and Mayan hierglyph systems from which he developed the "character-forms" and general compositional principles of his early paintings at the University of Stockholm. For several years he supported himself as a journalist and drama critic. He was self-trained in art, plunging directly into a refined anti-formalist abstraction.

In the 1950s Fahlstrom traveled extensively between Paris and Rome. He painted hectic and scrambled collage-paintings composed of snippets from the popular magazine Mad and other periodicals. He married three times; his first wife was Brigitta Tamm and they were divorced after six years.  He married Barbra Ostlihn (his second wife) in 1960; that marriage lasted six years also.  In 1976 he married Sharon Avery.

Fahlstrom migrated to New York from Sweden in 1961. His images draw on the flood of underground comic strips, random violence, hot news and crisis in which America has saturated him.  But he is an original, independent of schools and styles. The impulse of Fahlstrom's work seems to be a fascination with the arbitrary, gratuitious way in which events impinge on us through mass media.  He is a virtuoso of information-overload. Fahlstrom's work has always been pervaded by a cold, lurid sense of breakdown, pleasure and nausea, fragmentation, calamity. Underneath it, his political stance has firmed and grown more explicit.  It can be said that no painter has approached the radical dissatisfaction of the times with a blacker or edgier wit.

Fahlstrom died of cancer in New York City on November 9, 1976 at the age of forty-eight. His impact on contemporary art has been peripheral at best.

Sources include:
Robert Hughes in Time Magazine, April 12, 1971
Marks (See Art news, Summer 1966)
Contemporary Artists, 2nd Edition

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An installation and graphics artist who exhibited along with the emerging Pop Artists in New York in the early 1960s, Oyvind Fahlstrom was also a poet, journalist, playwright, critic and dedicated reader of science fiction. His artwork seemed too detailed to qualify as Pop. One of his persistent themes has been global consciousness.

He was under-recognized during his career, and a special exhibition in 2000 at the Arizona State University Museum in Tempe addressed his role as one of the forefathers of Pop Art and his desire as an artist to connect with his audience.

Fahlstrom spent his childhood in Brazil, the son of a Norwegian father and Swedish mother. In 1939, his parents sent him to Sweden on holiday, and because of the war, he did not see them again until 1947.

He studied classical archaeology and art history in Stockholm and was initially a writer attracted to Surrealism. In 1961, he moved to New York and was making paintings with the visual language of comic-book illustrations and with Cold War themes.

He was an avid reader, list maker, and collector, and these characteristics are obvious in his fantasy conceptual installations.

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