This Day in European History: October 27th, 1885
The Birth of Swedish Fauvist Sigrid Hjertén
By Aylin Kavrakov
Sigrid Hjertén, born October 27, 1885, was a Swedish modern expressionist painter. Color was a powerful aesthetic force in Hjertén’s work, as she heavily used color and shapes to express her emotions. She was inspired by color and simplified form while studying under French artist Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse in Paris. After studying, she returned to Sweden and it was in 1912 when she first debuted her work. Matisse’s influence is evident in Hjertén’s art during the 1910s; however, her later work began to reveal intimate aspects of her life, from her husband and her son to her own personal struggles.
Hjertén expressed herself predominately through colors. During the 1920s when living in Paris, she suffered from many psychosomatic disorders and feelings of isolation that were reflected in her art by her use of darker and colder colors. In 1932, just as she was preparing to return to Stockholm, Hjertén fell ill and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hjertén’s later work expressed extreme emotions, from horror to euphoria and she began to create more, painting a picture every day.
By 1938, her mental illness worsened. She created less while under permanent hospitalization. In 1948 Hjertén passed away from a botched lobotomy. Hjertén’s personal and expressive use of color and shape to illustrate powerful emotions have made her one of the most influential modernist painters during the Swedish modernism movement.