Olle Bærtling

(Halmstad, 1911 – Stockholm, 1981)


Olle Bærtling was born in Halmstad, Sweden. He spent the majority of his career in Stockholm. Baertling was largely self-taught as an artist. While employed at the bank, Baertling always painted on the side; his earliest works from the late 1930s are expressionistic land- and cityscapes. In the 1940s Baertling developed an interest in the Cubists and especially Matisse.

In 1948 Baertling began studying with Fernand Léger, a major influence on his work at this time and the first of his mentors. Under Léger’s tutelage, Baertling began moving away from figural and landscape-based painting toward a more geometric, abstract style.

Triangles began to appear in Baertling’s paintings in 1953–54, first set against a few lingering rectangles, then coming to dominate the entire image. The paintings began to feature precise arrangements of greater and smaller triangles — pyramidical wedge-shapes whose vertices are never located inside the painting but seem to exist in some imaginary space outside it.

In 1954, he represented Sweden at the Venice Biennial. He was honoured with several important prizes, including the award of the 7th Biennial of São Paulo in 1963.

During the ’60s and ’70s, the forms in Baertling’s paintings became simplified: fewer in number, with larger expanses of astringent color. At the same time, the artist began focusing equally on his sculptures

Baertling died on May 2, 1981, just before the opening of a retrospective of his work organized by the artist with the Mälmo Konsthall and the Moderna Museet in Sweden. His work is represented in major museum collections in Europe


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