Page N1.1 . 22 June 2005                     
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    Icelandic Clarifications

    by Janet Collins

    Unlike most of Europe, Iceland has no stained-glass tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Windows were imported until the 20th century. Against this backdrop, in April 2005, artists, curators, critics, and scholars from 14 countries gathered at Kópavogur for Iceland 2005: Architectural Glass Conference.

    Hosted by the Kópavogur Art Museum, participants enjoyed a comprehensive overview of the extraordinary developments in architectural glass art since the 1950s and speculated about the future of the art form.

    Icelandic stained glass didn't come into its own until 1955 when sculptor Gerdur Helgadottir was commissioned to do two windows for a Reykjavik house. The following year, painter Nina Tryggvadottir had a show of small stained-glass windows, also in Reykjavik. For the next few years, these two women dominated Iceland's glass art scene. But their dominance was short-lived. By 1969, Tryggvadottir had died, and Helgadottir had turned her attention to mosaics and other work.

    That same year, Leifur Breidfjord presented his first one-man show of stained glass. Breidfjord not only filled the void left by Tryggvadottir and Helgadottir, he took Icelandic glass work to the next level. He was the first Icelander to devote himself to the art rather than coming to it through another medium.

    Moreover, he was the first Icelandic artist to set up a studio for the exclusive production of unique glass works. Large-scale work by Helgadottir and Tryggvadottir had been produced in foreign glass studios, largely by foreign craftsmen. For example, almost all of Helgadottir's windows were made by the Oidtmann's studios in Linnich, Germany.   >>>

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    The exhibition "Spirit of Man," by Leifur Breidfjord in Salurinn, in the Kópavogur Concert Hall, was part of Iceland 2005: Architectural Glass Conference.
    Photo: Leifur Breidfjord

    ArchWeek Image

    Glass works by Leifur Breidfjord often have "tails" like kites.
    Photo: Leifur Breidfjord


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