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Greta Knutson Tzara

Greta Knutson Tzara

In a New Light

28 September – 2 February 2020
at Mjellby Art Museum, Halmstad

Greta Knutson (1899–1983) lived a long and remarkable life. Although she was born in Sweden, she spent all of her productive years living in France. As a female artist, this wasn’t the easiest place for her to develop, as the artistic establishment was never entirely willing to allow her to participate in exhibitions, due to her non-French background.

Greta Knutson emphasised the importance of the careful study of art history. Although she moved in avant-garde circles, she described herself as a post-cubist. In her private life, too, she also made decisions that were not straightforward for the time in which she lived: she divorced her husband, when this was still highly unusual; she lived alone with her son while also striving hard to advance her career; and she was not only active as an artist but also as a writer and reviewer. She associated with many successful artistic personalities – something which may have come to overshadow her own art.

Greta Knutson’s childhood was full of cultural influences, and her parents encouraged her to train to become an artist. She studied painting under Carl Wilhelmson, and she attended Sweden’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, before moving to Paris in order to study under André Lhote. It was here that she would meet her future husband – the Romanian poet who was at the forefront of the Dadaist movement, Tristan Tzara. During the time in which they were married (1925-1942), she signed her work Greta Knutson-Tzara, but she reverted to Greta Knutson following their separation. For this reason, we refer to her as Greta Knutson in this exhibition. The marriage resulted in the birth of their son, Christophe, and he features in several of her pictures.

The exhibition presents a multi-faceted body of artistic work, which reflects Greta Knutson’s life journey. We follow her from Paris to Provence – where she found new love, which is perhaps best reflected in her pictures paying homage to nature, to the later idyllic scenes inspired by the Venetian masters. Towards the end of her life, her night-time dream-like narrative visions took over. The In a New Light exhibition presents a multi-talented artist who chose to follow her own path – both in her private life and in her art.

The exhibition is produced by Norrköpings Konstmuseum.

Greta Knutson-Tzara,Komposition, 1953, foto Mats Arvidsson NKM

Greta Knutson-Tzara,Komposition, 1953, foto Mats Arvidsson NKM. Norrköpings Konstmuseums samling.