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Sven B. Sandzen

Birger Sandzen was born in Bildsberg, Sweden in 1871. He was known as a neo-impressionistic landscape painter of the Rocky Mountains, a graphic artist, and a university professor. He died in Lindsborg, Kansas in 1954.

Sandzen received his art education in Sweden and France before he immigrated to the United States in 1894 to accept a teaching position at Bethany College in Kansas. He dedicated the next 52 years to teaching—not only at the Bethany College, but also extensively throughout the western United States.

Painting in the neo-impressionist or fauvist style, he was a dominant force in Utah art in the late 1920s. In the summer of 1928, Sandzen was in southeastern Utah where he painted Moonrise in the Canyon, Moab.

Biography adapted from Springville Museum of Art.

Birger Sandzen was born in Sweden in 1871, and died in Lindsborg, Kansas, in 1954. Sandzen was best known as an impressionist landscape painter of the American Rockies, but he was also a graphic artist and, for over 50 years, a university professor.

The son of a Lutheran minister, Sandzen received all of his art education in Europe. He immigrated to Kansas in 1894, at the age of 23, with an appointment to teach modern languages, painting, and aesthetics at Bethany College in Lindsborg. For the next 52 years, he devoted himself to teaching, not only at the college but also across the prairie in small towns and villages, leaving behind generations of men and women with an appreciation of the visual arts. Sandzen was a professional artist with little interest in making a national reputation for himself. He was happy influencing no more than the small, midwestern communities.

In 1928, Sandzen came to Utah at the invitation of Calvin Fletcher of the Utah State Agricultural College (later known as Utah State University) in Logan. While in Utah, Sandzen was also invited to be a visiting professor at the Brigham Young University in Provo for the summer of 1928. He later taught in Logan, Utah, during the summers of 1929 and 1930.

The heightened color and intensity of emotion which Sandzen's paintings display are not a reflection of the calm, methodical manner in which they were executed. His philosophy, according to Sandzen's daughter, is best described as “controlled exuberance for life.“ He was also called a Poetic Expressionist in reference to his vividly colorful figures and landscapes. He deeply impressed many Utah artists, becoming the dominant artistic force during the late 1920's.

Birger Sandzen was attracted to Utah by the enthusiastic reception three of his paintings had received at the Springville High School Art Gallery's “Spring Salon“ in 1928. In early 1928, he was in southeastern Utah where he painted Moonrise in the Canyon, Moab, Utah. When he exhibited the oil at the 1928 Salon, it was purchased by the Junior class for the Gallery.

Sandzen's influence on Utah art of the period was immeasurable. His thick impasto, raw color, and regionalist scenery captured the imagination of Utah artists such as Phillip H. Barkdull, Louise Richards Farnsworth, Mabel Frazer, LeRoy Gardner, and Calvin Fletcher. Sandzen painted in a Neo-Impressionistic or Fauvist style very unlike the restrained, conservative art of Utah at the time. Fauvism, from the French “fauve,“ meaning “wild beast,“ is a style using pure, brilliant color combined with rough brushstrokes and thick outlines. The Fauves strove to liberate color; light and shadows were believed to be equally luminous, resulting in works that contrast hues rather than tones. Sandzen's expressive, energetic style was short-lived because the onset of the Great Depression caused a more somber spirit to pervade the art of the period.

Biography courtesy Springville Museum of Art.

Books

Adams, Clinton. Printmaking in New Mexico, 1880-1990. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1991.

Adams, Henry. American Drawings and Watercolors in the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute. Pittsburgh, PA: The Museum, 1985.

American Fine Arts Society, and Municipal Art Committee. Second National Exhibition of American Art. New York, NY: Municipal Art Committee, 1937.

Brenton, Arthur J. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution: A Checklist of the Collection, Spring 1975. Washington, DC: The Archives, 1975.

Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Museum American Paintings: A Complete Illustrated Listing of Works in the Museum's Collection. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum, 1979.

Cuba, Stanley. John F. Carlson and Artists of the Broadmoor Academy. Denver, CO: David Cook Fine Art, 1999.

Cuba, Stanley, and E. Cunningham. Pikes Peak Vision: The Broadmoor Art Academy. Colorado Springs, CO: The Center, 1989.

Coke, Van Deren. Taos and Santa Fe; The Artist's Environment, 1882-1942. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1963.

Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago, IL: Sage Books, 1974.

Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson, ed. The Artists Bluebook. Scottsdale, AZ: Ask ART.com, 2003.

Falk, Peter H., Audrey M. Lewis, Georgia Kuchen, and Veronika Roessler. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.

Falk, Peter H., and Andrea Ansell Bien. The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1888-1950. The Exhibition record series. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990.

Falk, Peter H. Dictionary of Signatures & Monograms of American Artists: From the Colonial Period to the Mid 20th Century. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1988.

Fielding, Mantle, and Glenn B. Opitz, eds. Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers. Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo, 1986.

Falk, Peter Hastings . Who Was Who in American Artists Art Active 1898-1947. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1985.

Gerdts, William. Art Across America (East). Vol. 1. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1990.

Gerdts, William H. Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1710-1920. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1990.

Gerdts, William. Art Across America (West). Vol. 3. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1990.

Geske, Norman, and Karen Janovy. The American Painting Collection The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

Gilbert, Gregory, and David C. Henry. Kansas Printmakers. Lawrence, KS: Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas: Lawrence, 1981.

Greenough, Charles Pelham, and Birger Sandzén. The Graphic Work of Birger Sandzén. Lindsborg, KS: Birger Sandzen Memorial Foundation, 1983.

Hassrick, Peter H. Drawn to Yellowstone: Artists in America's First National Park. Los Angeles, CA: Autry Museum of Western Heritage in association with University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2002.

Karpel, Bernard. Arts in America: A Bibliography. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980.

Lindquist, Emory Kempton, and Birger Sandzén. Birger Sandzén: An Illustrated Biography. Lawrence, KS: Published for the Birger Sandzén Memorial Foundation by the University Press of Kansas, 1993.

Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge. Index of Artists, International-Biographical; Including Painters, Sculptors, Illustrators, Engravers and Etchers of the Past and the Present. New York, NY: Peregrine Smith, 1948.

Marlor, Clark S. The Society of Independent Artists: The Exhibition Record 1917-1944. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press, 1984.

Mason, Lauris, and Joan Ludman. Print Reference Sources: A Select Bibliography, 18th-20th Centuries. Millwood, NY: Kraus-Thomson Organization, 1975.

Munchner Stadtmuseum. Painters of the American West: Selections from the Anschutz Collection. Munich, Germany: Munchner Stadtmuseum, 1982.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Roger B. Ward, and Patricia J. Fidler. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: A Handbook of the Collection. New York, NY: Hudson Hills Press in association with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1993.

Neubert, George W. American Impressionism from the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. Lincoln, NE: The Gallery, 1991.

Neuhaus, Eugen. The History and Ideals of American Art. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1931.

New Mexico Museum of Fine Art. Handbook of the Collections Museum of Fine Arts. Sante Fe, NM: The Museum, 1974.

Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith, l999.

O'Neill, Barbara and G. Foreman. The Prairie Print Makers. Topeka, KS: Kansas Arts Commission, 1981.

Preato, Robert, and Sandra Langer. Impressionism & Post-Impressionism Transformations 1885-1945. New York, NY: Grand Central Art Galleries, 1988.

Prown, Jules David. Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.

Reinhardt, Lisa. Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide 2001/2002. Phoenix, AZ: Gordon's Art Reference, 2000.

Sandzén, Birger. In the Mountains; Reproductions of Lithographs and Wood Cuts of the Colorado Rockies. McPherson, KA: C.J. Smalley, 1925.

Samuels, Peggy, and Harold Samuels. Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Illustrated Biographical. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976.

Spencer Museum of Art. Spencer Museum of Art Handbook of the Collection. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 1978.

Stawski, Nina. "The Drawings and Sketchbooks of Kansas Art Patriarch Sven Birger Sandzen." Thesis M.A., University of Missouri Columbia, 1982.

Springville Museum of Art. Permanent Collection Catalog Springville Museum of Art. Springville, UT: Springville Museum of Art,1972.

Shalkop, Robert L. A Show of Color; 100 Years of Painting in the Pike's Peak Region. An Exhibition in Honor of the Centennial of Colorado Springs, 1871-1971. Colorado Springs, CO: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 1971.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, Donna Poulton, and Janie L. Rogers. 150 Year Survey Utah Art & Artists. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2002.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Art. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publishing Co, 1991.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Painting and Sculpture. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1997.

Southwest Art. The Master Index of Artists and Articles Published in Southwest Art: 1971 Through 1993. Boulder, CO: Southwest Art, 1993.

Troccoli, Joan Carpenter, Marlene Chambers, Jane Comstock, and Sarah Anschutz Hunt. Painters and the American West: The Anschutz Collection. Denver, CO: Denver Art Museum, 2000.

University Gallery Minnesota. The Divided Heart Scandinavian Immigrant Artists 1850-1950. Minneapolis, MN: The Gallery, 1982.

White, Robert R., ed. The Taos Society of Artists. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1998.

Witt, David . The Taos Artists A Historical and Biographical Dictionary. Colorado Springs, CO: Ewell Fine Art Publications, 1984.

Periodicals

Art Review. "America the Beautiful American." Art Review, June, 1994.

Art-Talk. "Records fall at Coeur d'Alene Sale." Art-Talk, October, 2002.

Artnews. "Art Marchket." ARTNews, October, 2002.

Beatty, Brett. "Regional Art, Kansas Public Schools." American Art Review, April, 2002."

Griffis, Larry. "Birger Sandzen/The Middle Years." American Art Review, June, 1995.

Sven Berger Sandzen." Illustriana Kansas. Hebron, NE: Illustriana Incorporated, 1933.

 Last Modified 9/3/14