BJO Nordfeldt: American Internationalist Opens in Wichita, First Stop for Touring Exhibition
A modernist painting of rocks in hues of green, blue, red and yellow by BJO Nordfeldt
B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Rock Forms, 1949, oil on canvas, 35 1/8 × 45 3/4 × 7/8 in. Weisman Art Museum, bequest of Emily Abbott Nordfeldt, 1990.21.16.

Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, announces the touring exhibition and catalogue BJO Nordfeldt: American Internationalist

The project includes fresh new archival research and major loans. The Weisman Art Museum holds the largest collection of works by this innovative, early-Twentieth-Century, Swedish immigrant artist. For BJO Nordfeldt: American Internationalist the Weisman brought together works from fifteen museum and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the University of New Mexico Art Museum, among others, in one of the most thorough presentations of the artist’s work ever assembled. The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue are the first scholarly assessment of the American modernist Bror Julius Olsson (BJO) Nordfeldt (1878–1955) in decades.

Nordfeldt was a modernist of international reputation. No less than the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York staged Nordfeldt’s Memorial Exhibition in 1956. During his lifetime, museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art and Metropolitan in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, presented his one-person exhibitions. 

A collage of various Nordfeldt paintings including portraits and landscapes.
Details of various Nordfeldt paintings, identification below.

“Nordfeldt remains one of the least examined American painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He worked in a vein that can be presented as realism and expressionism. He deserves continued appreciation and study.”, asserted the exhibition curator, Dr. Gabriel Weisberg, Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Minnesota.

With a renegade spirit that sought novel locations for new artistic inspiration, he lived in or near artist colonies in Provincetown in Massachusetts, Santa Fe in New Mexico, and New Hope in Pennsylvania.

B.J.O Nordfeldt painting

“Modern artists were mavericks by definition. Many lived outside cities where the avant-garde art world centered activities, including BJO Nordfeldt,” said early American modern scholar and Wichita Art Museum director Dr. Patricia McDonnell. “The current project will regain a devoted following for Nordfeldt, a pioneer with an uncanny ability for fresh invention of high caliber.”

BJO Nordfeldt was born in Sweden and moved with his family to the United States when 14 years old. He trained at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the Académie Julien in Paris. Nordfeldt firmly embraced the fiercely independent spirit of modernism, and he continued to explore different subjects and styles to remain fresh and authentic across his career. 

The exhibition appears at Wichita Art Museum, Kansas, from September 25, 2021 through January 16, 2022 and at the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota from February 11 through July 10, 2022. The accompanying lavishly illustrated catalogue is published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Details of Paintings:

Top (L-R):

(1) B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Portrait of Clara (detail), 1911, oil on canvas, 71 5/8 × 32 3/16 in. Weisman Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Gaardsmoe Jr., 1990.5.
(2) B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Green Woods (detail), 1950, oil on canvas, 40 1/4 × 52 in. Weisman Art Museum, gift of Mrs. B. J. O. Nordfeldt, 1965.8.3.
(3) B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Seated New Mexican with Light Blue Coat (detail), circa 1928, oil on canvas, 36 × 29 1/4 in. Weisman Art Museum, gift of Emily Abbott Nordfeldt, 1976.1

Bottom (L-R):

(4) B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Boy with Hat (detail), 1916, oil on canvas, 24 × 20 in. Weisman Art Museum, bequest of Emily Abbott Nordfeldt, 1990.21.
(5) B. J. O. Nordfeldt, Chicago (detail), 1912, oil on canvas, 43 x 37 in. 1969.1638 Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Weatherspoon in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon, 1969. Photo courtesy of the Weatherspoon Art Museum, UNC Greensboro.
(6) B. J. O. Nordfeldt, Girl Holding a Flower (detail), about 1930, oil on canvas, 31 3/4 x 25 3/4 inches. Collection of Wichita Public Schools, Kansas.