Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: Carl and Karin Larsson, Creators of the Swedish Style

    Not long ago I ordered the book Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style through Amazon from a used book source. I was so excited to find a book about one of my favorite artists, Carl Larsson, and his wife Karin and their epic collaboration of their famous house, Lilla Hyttnas in the village of Sundborn, Sweden.

   This book is so fascinating because not only is it a book about their home-- it is a book about their life together, their creations and art, and how the making of their home and their family took on a unique role in Larsson's artwork and the image of Swedish design. For Swedes, the art of Carl Larsson in many ways depicted the ideal home life and encouraged an appreciation for warmth and family friendly rooms.

   I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I ordered the book online, but I was very happy with the heft and depth of the volume! There are hundreds of full color high quality photos and reproductions of Larsson's prints. I loved seeing photos of the actual real-life rooms set beside Larsson's illustrations of the same space. As an artist, seeing this gave me a deep appreciation of how Larsson was able to convey the essence of the room in in his watercolors, and how easily he created stories and movement with the figures he painted within them-- usually his family.

  It was also good to read more about Karin and her contributions to the vision of the home and her own artistry. When Carl and Karin met, she was also a painter. As a modern woman, mother and artist, it does make me sad to read that, once they started having children, Karin's painting came to an end.
   But looking at her home, and reading about the joy she took in designing everything from clothes to furniture to textiles, I think it's safe to assume that Karin didn't 'give up art', but found different outlets for her artistic talents, and those outlets were deeply rooted in and inspired by motherhood.

   Without a doubt, this book left me with an even deeper appreciation for this unbelievably artistic duo and their biggest work of art-- their home. I love all the detail that they put into each room-- painting on the walls, rooms filled with handmade things, and creating beautiful and inviting spaces in which they raised their children and also inspired their nation.
   Even today, the richly folk art and bright style of the Larsson home and Carl Larsson's paintings inspire decorators and home owners around the world and can be categorized as it's own unique style.
   I would definitely recommend this beautiful book to all lovers of Larsson, Swedish style and folk style in general. Especially on a dark winter's day-- whether you're in the frozen north or just the chilly suburbs, this is a warm and cozy read!


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