Modernism in Scandinavia: Art Architecture and Design (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017) is a new study of Nordic modernism, its complex reality and its effects on our understanding of the Modern Movement. The author, Dr. Charlotte Ashby (b. 1979), provides a rich analysis of the art, architecture and design history of the Nordic region, and of modernism as a concept and mode of practice. The book spans over eight decades between 1890 and 1970 and ranges across Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland.
The contents have been arranged chronologically and built around a set of case studies which Dr. Ashby analyses against the backdrop of societal progress and regional cultural history. The case studies – such as Helene Schjerfbeck’s The Seamstress (1905), Puu-Käpylä by Martti Välikangas (1925), or the Culture House and the Bank of Sweden by Peter Celsing (1966–76) – have been selected to give a sense of the wider cultural forces shaping the period. Ashby’s analysis also discusses the surrounding infrastructure of influential cultural institutions, the professionalization of art and design practice, and the markets within which works were produced. The book aims to give a coherent picture of change over time and a sense of the key ideas relating to modernity, history, and identity that shaped the development of Modernism in the Scandinavian region.
Dr. Ashby was awarded her Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She lectures in the history of design at Birkbeck, University of London and Oxford, and her research focuses on modernity, nationalism and the transnational in 19th- and 20th-century European art and design. Read our interview with Dr. Ashby in our blog.