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Dec. 3 Art Minute: Gustaf Fjaestad, Silence - Winter

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Gustaf Fjaestad (Swedish, 1868-1948) Silence - Winter. Oil on canvas, 1914. Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1914.119

A master of the winter scene, Gustaf Fjaestad painted the snowbound forests and countryside of Värmland in western Sweden, a region known for its winter storms. Fjaestad developed a process in which he coated his canvas with a light-sensitive substance onto which he projected photographs that he used as a guide for his paintings. Yet his images have an almost abstract quality to them as patterns are explored in almost obsessive detail. Silence - Winter presents an evocative scene of freshly made tracks leading under heavily snow-laden branches, the only hint of any activity in the blanketed forest. 

Fjaestad was one of the leading Swedish painters at the turn of the 20th century; he was also a noted tapestry designer and cabinetmaker. Art, however, was something of a second career for him—he had been a champion ice skater who held the 1891 world record for the fastest English mile.

This work is currently on view in the exhibition Sights and Sounds: Art, Nature, and the Senses.