L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The brightly lit and precious dark - selected work of Nils von Dardel

Dansgolv - Dance Floor, 1922.
Self-portrait, 1923.

I have to admit - yet again - to stumbling across a painter I was completely unaware of; how did I miss him? Von Dardel's work seems to be the very definition of "divine decadence." The majority of his earlier paintings prominently feature a flawlessly groomed "dandy" - and, of course, the dandy is the artist himself, acting out his fantasies and nightmares, dramatizing scenarios from his personal life. Openly bisexual, self-destructive, with a serious heart condition, he seems to have lived his life with the constant thought that he might not see the next tomorrow. His brightly colored, nervous, and hallucinatory imagery reflects this recklessness; both beautiful and disturbing, each painting is a kind of fever dream.

Gräshoppan - Grasshopper, 1931.
Visit hos excentrisk dam - Visit by an eccentric lady, 1921.
Utan pardon - Without mercy, 1919.
Yngling i svart, flicka i vitt - Young man in black, girl in white, 1919.
David och Goliat - David and Goliath, 1916.
Villa Balestrino, 1923.
Familjeidyll, (dedikerad "till Alma från Nils") - Family idyll (dedicated "to Alma from Nils"), 1923.
 Den drunknade flickan - The Drowned girl, 1919.
Den Döende dandyn - The Dying dandy, 1918.
Ynglingen och Flickan - Young man and girl, 1919.
Dandy med svärd - Dandy with sword, circa 1922.
Drömmar och fantasier - Dreams and fantasies, 1922.
Konversation - conversation, 1918.
Exotiskt landskap - Exotic landscape (sketch), 1918.
 Crime passionnel/Svartsjukedrama - Crime of passion/jealous drama, 1921.
Påfåglar - Peacocks, 1918.
 Den sönderslagna statyn II - The Broken statue II, 1917.
Drömmar och fantasier nr 1 (Kägelbanan) - Dreams and fantasies number 1 (Skittle alley), 1922.
Rolf de Maré, art collector, later founder of the Ballets Suédois in Paris, 1916. He was Dardel's benefactor, close friend, and sometime lover.
The Rocky Twins, dancers, 1928.
The art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, 1913.
Writer, theater director Jacques Hébertot, 1914.
Writer Maurice Rostand, 1913.
Artist Fille Fromén, 1910.
ReceptionReception, 1913.
Columbi ägg - The Columbus egg, 1924.
 Baren - The Bar, 1920.
Sicilian man, 1937. (Three images.)
Young man, 1937.
"Pierre", date unknown.
 Fiskaren - Fisherman, 1931.
Uppvaktning/Sjömansgosse, Hildesborg - Courting/Sailor's boy, Hildesborg, 1918. Hildesborg was the estate of Rolf de Maré.
Det brinnande hjärtat - The Burning heart, 1931.
Paranoikern - Paranoid, 1925.
 Exekution - Execution, 1919.
John Blund, 1927. John (or Jon) Blund is the Swedish version of the sandman.
Detail of a different version of the above.


Min Dotter - My daughter, 1923. His only child, Ingrid, also became an artist, as did her two sons.

Nils Elias Kristofer von Dardel (25 October 1888, Bettna, Sweden - 25 May 1943, New York City), Swedish Post-Impressionist painter. He was born into a Swedish noble family, originally of Swiss nationality. His grandfather was the diplomat and artist Fritz von Dardel, member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm; the grandson would later study there. In 1910 he traveled to Paris - as many of his Swedish artist contemporaries were doing at the time - and there he took inspiration from the Fauves, the Post-Impressionists, as well as Japanese woodcuts. He explored Pointillism and also made a brief foray into Cubism. He would reside mainly in France until 1939. In 1912 he met and later became the friend and sometime lover of the wealthy son of a Swedish diplomat, Rolf de Maré, who became his benefactor. Von Dardel was responsible for advising his friend and helping to assemble de Maré's impressive Modernist art collection. In 1920, with von Dardel's artistic collaboration, de Maré would create the short-lived but legendary Ballets Suédois in Paris.

In Tokyo, 1917. (Two images.)
With his wife Thora at his studio in rue Lepic, Paris, 1921.  Crime passionnel/Svartsjukedrama is on the easel at right.

A compulsive traveler all his life, von Dardel was in Tokyo in 1917 when he met and became secretly engaged to Nita Wallenberg, the daughter of yet another diplomat; the engagement was broken two years later by her family on account of his scandalous lifestyle. In 1921 he married writer Thora Klinckowström. They had a daughter, Ingrid, but divorced in 1934. In 1930 he met another writer, Edita Morris. She was also married - and remained so - but they had a relationship (of exactly what nature I've been unable to ascertain) for the remainder of von Dardel's life. He died of a heart attack in New York at the age of fifty-four and was buried in Ekerö cemetery outside of Stockholm. Not terribly successful during his lifetime, a fuller appreciation of his work was just beginning at the time of his death and has continued since then. His 1918 work Den döende dandyn (The dying dandy) took on an iconic role in the Gay Rights movement in Sweden during the 1980s, and it broke auction records when it was sold in 1984 and again four years later. And in 2012 another work became the most expensive modernist Swedish painting ever sold.

Self-portrait, 1935.

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