Lot 71
  • 71

Odd Nerdrum

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Odd Nerdrum
  • Mother
  • signed, titled and dated 1985-1995 / Nerdrum / Moren on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 152 by 183cm., 60 by 72in.


Galleria Forni, Bologna
Weinstein Gallery, California
Purchased from the above by the present owner in 2005


Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Odd Nerdrum. Two Decades. Paintings 1978-1998, 1998-99, no. 9


Jan-Erik Ebbestad Hansen, Odd Nerdrum: Paintings, Oslo, 1995, pp. 176 - 177, catalogued & illustrated
Richard Vine, Odd Nerdrum, Paintings, Sketches and Drawings, Oslo, 2004, pp. 91-93, illustrated; p. 415, listed (dated 1984-94; with incorrect dimensions 72 x 85 in)

Catalogue Note

Highly dramatic in its visual impact, Mother presents a central woman and her children in a desolate rocky landscape. Reminiscent of Henry Moore’s reclining figures, Nerdrum appears to subvert the pyramidal Renaissance formula of Virgin Mother with the two Holy Infants to a reclining, sleeping group, apparently the last people remaining on earth. Yet the bleakness of their surroundings is tempered by the suggestion of a rising sun on the horizon, bringing with it new hope.

Odd Nerdrum is the leading figurative Norwegian painter of his generation. Though Nerdrum went to art school in Oslo, and later was a pupil in Düsseldorf under Joseph Beuys, his work has never sat comfortably in any of the schools of Modernism that have prevailed during his career as an artist. At a time when conceptual and abstract art was favoured throughout the art world, Odd Nerdrum returned to the techniques of painters like Rembrandt and Caravaggio, who are among his earliest influences. Here Nerdrum deploys an impressive variety of painterly approaches, from the finely applied brushwork suggesting the chiaroscuro in the figure group, to the thick, bituminous pigments of the ground beneath them.

In stark contrast to the work of his post-war contemporaries, Nerdrum favoured traditional craftsmanship and subjects, which limited his output to a small number of paintings each year and set him apart from mainstream contemporary art history. With his manifesto On Kitsch, Nerdrum argued for a return to painting as craftsmanship rather than the conceptual practice that art has come to be identified with.

Appearing at auction for the first time, Mother was exhibited at the artist’s prestigious solo exhibition at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo in 1998. Among the exhibition’s other highlights was Dawn, formerly in the collection of David Bowie, which sold in these rooms in November 2016 for a new artist auction record.