Idun Lovén was an artist, art teacher and the leader of the private art school Konstskolan Idun Lovén in Stockholm.
Idun Lovén was born in Växjö in 1920, the next youngest of the seven daughters of Samuel Lovén, a teacher training college teacher, and his wife Zidonia. When Idun Lovén was four, the family moved to Linköping. Music and art were important in the family. Her professional choice was made after her matriculation in 1934 when Idun Lovén started formal art studies in Linköping for the artist Leoo Verde. Karin Wallinder, her drawing teacher at the grammar school in Linköping, wrote in a testimonial that ”Idun Lovén has been one of my best pupils and shown herself to own a very good predisposition for drawing and painting”. Idun Lovén also stood in for her teacher during her schooldays.
During 1938—1939, Idun Lovén studied at Statens Tegneskole in Oslo, with among others Per Krohg, Carl von Hanno and Karl Høgberg as teachers. Parallel to this, she was an external student at Kunstakademiet. Idun Lovén has herself borne witness to the significance of inspiration in contemporary Norwegian art, with Munch, Sörensen and the so-called Fresco brothers as especially influential. A certificate from her teachers at Tegneskolen, and also one separately from Henrik Sörensen, emphasise her gifts for colour and form. Sörensen recommended continued studies at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Nothing came of that, but instead she continued with croquis for Otte Sköld and painting studies for Isaac Grünewald at his private school of painting. In the 1950s, Idun Lovén undertook study trips to Paris and other European countries as well as North Africa. They were to enrich and reinforce her colourful, expressively full-bodied visual language.
Idun Lovén had her first exhibitions in 1945 in Östersund and in Linköping in 1948. The exhibition in Linköping in 1953 must be counted as her breakthrough. The critics praised her painting, both oils and watercolours. She already showed the themes to which she was to keep: portraits, landscapes, city motifs and still life. In a newspaper interview in the 1950s, after a painting sojourn in Lappland and an exhibition in Kiruna, she expressed the opinion that ”art is not a kind of engineering science […] fitting together triangles and colours is not the art of painting, it is just practice, the elements of art”. This may be interpreted at a stand against her generation of artists’ strong concentration on non-figurative art, concretism. Idun Lovén was the same generation as the so-called ”men of 1947”, the representatives of concretism. In another connection, she emphasised that one brush stroke can give birth to a hundred new ones, and that it was a matter of feeling and knowing when to stop, that is to say, when a painting was finished.
Idun Lovén was not a dogmatic theorist. Painting is about feelings and expressing what one had experienced, and it acquires its final form during the painting process. One centre of gravity in her art is landscape painting based on experiences and impressions of the mid-Swedish rich variation in forests and archipelagos in the province of Östergötland and centred on Loftahammar. At a memorial exhibition in 1990, it was pointed out that she had depicted a natural environment that was threatened by the changes to older small farms and forestry through closure and conversion. Her art was in that way documentary. Motifs from Linköping and Stockholm deal in a similar way with city landscapes in periods of change through demolition and exploitation.
As an artist, Idun Lovén represented a tradition of expressive colourism that has its background in the Swedish modernistic expressionism and colourism formed during the 1910s to 1930s. She cannot be described as a ”beautifier”. Her experiences of nature’s awe-inspiring greatness and the moods of the sea gave her powerful inspiration. Her colours can be profound and heavy, but also with a fine feeling for nuances. In her still life works and also in her portraits, her entire palette came into use. She often painted with three-dimensional, expressive brush strokes, to which one can find parallels in the works of among others her teacher Verde and also artists like Evert Lundqvist and Inge Schiöler, not to mention Albin Amelin. Parallel to her painting in oils, Idun Lovén worked with drawing and watercolours. In her watercolours in particular, she often depicted the winter landscapes around Kulltorp in Östergötland, where she had her home from 1956. The technique demanded a quicker working method and resulted in the paring down of motifs and details.
Time for her own work as an artist from the end of the 1950s and for a long time after that was concentrated by Idun Lovén above all to summers and a period around new year. The reason for this was that in 1957 she took over the school of painting known as Edward Berggren’s student atelier in David Bagares gata in Stockholm. Berggren’s school was his own continuation of the art school that he and the sculptor Gottfrid Larsson had opened together in Stockholm in 1920. After her formal take-over in 1958, the school was renamed Konstskolan Idun Lovén. In 2020, the school has attained one hundred years of history.
As a school leader, Idun Lovén carried out pioneer work by determinedly acting to raise the status of private art schools. She was the central figure in this work. In 1978, her art school, formally a private professional school was brought under the supervision of the national school board Skolöverstyrelsen. The pupils were thereby enabled to apply for student funding. Early on, Idun Lovén orientated the tuition with the help of many highly merited teachers and guest teachers towards new directions in painting and sculpture. She introduced new art forms like film, theatre and dance to the education given there. Her interest in literature, not forgetting her friendship with Nils Ferlin, was the starting point for the themes for the school’s regular cultural evenings. The school’s activities are described in two jubilee pamphlets from 1983 and 2002. From 1962 and for a number of years afterwards, she also ran a successful summer school of painting at Kulltorp in Östergötland. For several years, Leoo Verde cooperated here too as a teacher. As late as the autumn of 1987, Idun Lovén led a painting course at the Östergötland Museum in Linköping.
Idun Lovén died in 1988. She is buried in the family tomb in the Linköping Western Cemetery. In the new suburb Övre Vasastaden in Linköping, it is possible nowadays to take a walk along Idun Lovéns gata.