Ingegerd Möller was one of Sweden’s most significant artists. She became famous for her extensive production of oil paintings, watercolours, and paper graphic art, public artwork, as well as her versatile and innovative textile art using mixed techniques in various materials.
Ingegerd Möller was born in 1928. She was the daughter of the businessman Olle Möller from Vålådalen, Undersåker in Jämtland, and his wife Elly Möller. Olle ran a guest house and a tourist shop in Vålådalen. During the 1920s visitors began to come to the area to explore Åre’s mountain landscape and the surrounds, both in the summer months and to ski in wintertime. Ingegerd Möller herself described it thus: “During my childhood we began to get visitors coming to the mountain farms. We called them “air visitors” because they spent so much time talking about the invigorating air. They would look out over the expanses, enraptured, and I would always hear the same admiring exclamations as they took in the beautiful surrounding views”.
There were three children in the Möller family. Ingegerd Möller attended public school in Vallbo, at quite some distance from her parents’ farm, and then continued her education in Undersåker. Due to a few years of ill health she missed out on some schooling. In order to make up for this she moved to Katrineholm where, in just three terms, she gained her school-leaving qualifications. She also took a weaving course at Jämtslöjds Vävskola in Östersund in 1946.
That same year, then aged 18, Ingegerd Möller enrolled at Tekniska skolan (now Konstfack, college of arts, crafts, and design) in Stockholm, attending the interior design course for two years. She also became a student at Grünewald’s school of painting and, at the same time, attended Konstfack’s furniture department evening school. She continued all these studies through the spring of 1947. In the autumn of that year she enrolled at Otte Sköld’s school of painting (now known as Pernby’s school of painting). In 1948 she held her first group exhibition along with eight other young artists. This group called themselves Slussen as they had rented a studio at Slussen (in Stockholm) through Isaac Grünewald. That spring Ingegerd Möller travelled to Paris and then on to Bretagne in order to paint. During the late summer she spent time painting in the Jämtland mountains and then in the autumn she returned to Otte Sköld’s painting school. In the spring of 1949 she once again rented Grünewald’s studio and participated in several exhibitions. During the autumn of 1949 she was a visiting student at Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi in Copenhagen, before continuing her art studies by taking lessons from Lennart Rodhe and Pierre Olofsson at Académie Libre in Stockholm in 1950. The next year, accompanied by her fiancé Rolf Erling Nygren and two of their friends, Ingegerd Möller travelled first to Morocco and then to France. They visited significant museums in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Spain. Ingegerd Möller continued to travel over the ensuing years, visiting many European countries, and also undertaking longhaul trips to Kenya, Russia, Nepal, and Lofoten.
In 1954 Ingegerd Möller rented her first studio at Nybrokajen 17 in Stockholm. Two years later in 1956, she moved to Söder in Stockholm. She spent the next years exhibiting her work and spending time in northern Swedish natural beauty spots, painting en plein air and producing detailed nature studies. Her childhood in this sparsely populated but beautiful mountainous area led to a desire to portray the flowers and the landscape which she treasured throughout her life. Indeed, one of her main sources of inspiration was the botanist Carl von Linné. She particularly enjoyed painting watercolours of plants and berries which sold well and quickly.
In the spring of 1958 Ingegerd Möller travelled to Greece, where she lived in Greek government-run studios in Delphi and Mykonos. Back in Sweden she and her husband Rolf Erling Nygren spent many summers in the area around Hamburgsund in Bohuslän where the rocky coastline of Tanum municipality left a lasting impression on her.
Ingegerd Möller was awarded the Ester Lindahl stipend in 1961, which enabled her to go on painting tours, with her husband, to Mexico, Guatemala, and the USA. She was again awarded the same stipend the following year and so spent another four months in Mexico.
In the summer of 1964 the couple built a house with a studio on Hamburgön in Bohus county. During the winter they travelled again, this time to Moscow, in the company of a group of artists. The ensuing years were spent intensely focused on painting and exhibitions, alternating their time between Bohus county and trips to Paris, London, and Ireland. Ingegerd Möller was commissioned to produce textile artwork, including woven pieces for Blackeberg hospital in 1968. The following year she began to collaborate with Edna Martin and Handarbetets Vänner on a project to produce a large flower-themed triptych for the hospital’s dining area. She also created a tiled decoration for one of the dining room walls.
In 1971 Ingegerd Möller and her friend Inga Borg travelled to Iceland where she was much taken by the Icelandic scenery. She returned to the island several times in order to paint and to hold exhibitions. In 1976 she held an exhibition at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde in Stockholm, selecting the late Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøj as her co-exhibitor. The following year Ingegerd Möller and Inga Borg put together a book displaying their artwork of paintings, weavings, and embroidery inspired by their trips to Iceland. The book was an homage to that country’s magnificent Nordic landscape.
Stig Johansson, the art critic, described his experience of the 2003–2004 major retrospective exhibition of Ingegerd Möller’s work held at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde by saying that he had “witnessed an overwhelming and rich exhibition” which formed “a single natural scenario” of oil paintings, watercolours, and textiles. Rather than portraying vast expanses, he said, the artist “prefers to be close to the ground, painting herself into it, capturing the potential that exists within unimportant, overlooked images”. Now an established artist Ingegerd Möller no longer strove to simply portray what she saw, seeking instead to convey feelings, smells, and visual impressions, teasing the viewers’ every sense and transforming the individual’s emotional experiences.
Ingegerd Möller’s solo exhibitions include: her debut show at Lilla Galleriet, Stockholm in 1954, at Gummesons Konstgalleri in 1958, 1963 and 1967, at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 1972 and 1980, at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde in 1976, at Konstfrämjandet in 1979, at Ahlbergshallen, Östersund in 1981, at Centre Culturel Suédois, Paris in 1983, at Konstnärshuset in 1986, at Galleri Doktor Glas in 1990 and 1993, and at Vålådalens Naturum in 2002, a retrospective exhibition at Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde in 2003, at Galleri Gröna Paletten in 2006, at Bror Hjorths Hus, Uppsala in 2007, the exhibition I Linnés marker at Norrbottens museum and Luleå in 2007, at Norrtälje konsthall in 2009, at Konstforum Norrköping in 2009, at Jamtli (Jämtlands länsmuseum) and Jämtlands läns konstförening, Östersund in 2010, and at Edsvik konsthall, Sollentuna in 2012.
Amongst her many group exhibitions some notable ones are: Nynäshamn in 1957 with Barbro Östlihn, Björn Hallström and her husband Rolf Erling Nygren, the Femtiotal exhibition at Jamtli in 2003, Norrtälje konsthall in 2018 with Hans Wigert and Ulrik Samuelson. She exhibited her work several times at Jämtlands läns konstförening galleries in Östersund during the 1950s and in Sveriges allmänna konstförening exhibitions, as well as those of several other art associations across Sweden. She also exhibited abroad, including in France, Japan, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Iceland, the USA, and Canada.
Ingegerd Möller produced public works of art for Blackeberg and Huddinge hospitals, for the Swedish Parliament, SGU Sveriges Geologiska Undersökningar (Swedish Geological Survey) in Uppsala, the piece called Hav och Skärgård for Fridhemsplan subway station in Stockholm, 12 sculptures collectively named Vinge as a collaborative effort with Åke Pallarp for the Flygfältet residential area in Norrtälje, for Idunteatern Folkets hus in Umeå, for Ájtte the Swedish mountain and Sami museum in Jokkmokk, Folkets Park in Kiruna, and for Folkets Park in Mjölby. One of her woven works, entitled Vattenmöja med blommor, can also be seen at Norrtälje hospital. Further, she produced the choir rug for Mariakyrkan in Sigtuna on behalf of that church’s congregation.
For a period of 20 years, from the mid-1960s onwards, Ingegerd Möller worked collaboratively with Handarbetets Vänner during which time 23 of her nature portraits were translated into monumental textile artworks. This included the 9-metre long woven piece entitled Ekosång till en fjäril produced for Sveriges Riksbank in 1974. She has herself woven and crocheted thirty large-scale artworks, including one for Idunteatern in Umeå.
Ingegerd Möller’s work can be seen at Stockholms Nationalmuseum, Moderna museet, Gothenburg konstmusem, Nyköping museum, Jamtli (Jämtlands länsmuseum), Östersund, Norrköping Konstmuseum, Skissernas museum in Lund, as well as a number of embassies, municipalities, and county councils. In recognition of her artistry Ingegerd Möller was awarded the Prins Eugen medal in 1989. She was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts from 1967 onwards and, through KRO (Konstnärernas Riksorganisation, Swedish artists’ association), Kulturrådet (arts council), and Nordiska Konstförbundet she made important contributions to official policies involving art. Ingegerd Möller later appointed the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts as her sole beneficiary in her will. Her last wish was that all her saleable possessions, including her own works and art collection, should be used to set up a stipend fund named Olof Norell’s and Ingegerd Möller’s Minnesfond which would award annual disbursements to “artists who exhibited a lengthy and meritorious route to their postion”.
Ingegerd Möller was twice married: from 1953–1979 she was married to Rolf Erling Nygren, and from 1983 until 1997 she was married to Olof Norell. Both of her husbands were also artists.
Ingegerd Möller died, aged 89, at her home of Nors old school in Roslagsbro, in 2018 following a period of illness. Her home housed one of the largest artist’s studios in Roslagen, measuring 350 square metres. Her remains lie at Roslagsbro cemetery.