Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd was a painter and designer. She was one of the pioneers of the artistic trend called “spontanism” in Sweden – a non-figurative type of painting using aleatoric techniques to develop a freer imagery.
Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd was born in Stockholm in 1917. Her mother was Maud Nordberg and her father was Vilhelm Lundbohm, an engineer. In 1939, she married Oscar Gustaf Adolf Reutersvärd, an artist and art historian. The same year, she started her studies in drawing at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. She also studied separate courses in the techniques and materials of painting for the artist and conservator Akke Kumlien in Stockholm in 1944. Apart from life studies in Paris, her education consisted of her own study trips in France in 1939 and 1947 as well as in Italy in 1949. She also carried out academic studies and took her Bachelor of Arts Degree 1954.
Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd made her debut with a separate exhibition, Reliefer, at Lilla Paviljongen in Stockholm in 1956. The exhibition aroused a certain amount of attention since it was positively reviewed by Ulf Linde in the major Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Linde wrote among other things: “Despite the monotonous technique, one does not experience any impression of repetitiveness … Besides, her pictures are beautifully balanced on the surface – they can look like oriental calligraphies”.
In 1957, she was invited to collaborate in the artists’association Roter Reiter’s exhibition in Munich in 1957. She also collaborated in collective exhibitions with Sveagalleriet, Sweden’s art associations Sveriges Allmänna Konstförening and Riksförbundet för bildande konst, as well as the women’s art association Föreningen Svenska Konstnärinnor. She exhibited at Galerie Brinken in Stockholm in 1958 along with Ingrid Thelander and Carl-Axel Lunding, as well as at Galerie Blanche in Stockholm the year after. In 1960, her work was exhibited with that of Carin Cassel at the Norrköping Konstmuseum. Among gallery exhibitions may be mentioned one with her husband at Galerie Leger in Malmö in 1966. In 1985, Lundbohm-Reutersvärd was represented in a separate exhibition at the Lund konsthall.
Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd had her break-through with an abstract, action painting influenced by Jackson Pollock. She is seen as one of the pioneers of this type of painting in Sweden, in the USA termed action painting, on the continent art informel and in Sweden spontanism. In Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd’s case, this often consisted of black asphalt paint drizzled or dropped into sometimes thin and sometimes thicker oval or circle-shaped lines over a background with lighter patches of colour collected into clusters. The black asphalt splashes brutally contradict the more restful and static background, giving the canvas a powerful sense of movement. She thereby mixed two form languages on the same canvas. The technique is reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s and the informal art movement. However, while Pollock worked across the whole surface, Lundbohm-Reutersvärd let her image gravitate round a central point, at the same time as the different form languages, the abstract block-like forms and the spontaneous splash movements collide with and complement each other. Here there are both beauty and threat, calm and movement.
While many abstract artists chose neutral titles, Lundbohm-Reutersvärd gave her paintings enigmatically poetic names like Frågor och svaret, Brev till sommaren, Rosa barriär, Ring för Sabbatsår and Georgs vagn i havet. Like the spontaneous form language, these open up the paintings to ambiguity.
Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd was one of the participants in the exhibition Kring spontanismen in 1959, that introduced this trend to the Swedish public in the touring exhibition. She participated in it with three paintings: Till en innesluten, no date, Till Miró from 1957, and Vesperadest from 1959. These titles also stimulate the imagination. One of the titles also expresses homage to Joan Miró, the Spanish modernist who paved the way for not only surrealism but also abstract art, and who developed spontaneous gesturism in his later paintings.
Apart from her abstract works, Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd also painted portraits and landscapes from southern Sweden: Skåne, Halland and Öland. She changed around between various techniques and materials like asphalt, oils, pastels, Ripolin and coal tar on paper, wooden panel or plexiglass. She was also strongly engaged in political issues, against the frenzy of demolishing old buildings and environmental pollution.
Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd is currently represented at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Nasjonalgalleriet in Oslo, Malmö Konstmuseum, Ystad Konstmuseum, Norrköping Konstmuseum, Kalmar Konstmuseum, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and Osaka Art Museum.
Britt Lundbohm-Reutersvärd died in Lund in 2001. She is buried in Hulterstad Cemetery on southern Öland.