Carl Eldh Atelier
Exploring the artist studio of the late Swedish sculptor, Carl Eldh
We were fortunate this past summer to find ourselves traveling again. At the outset of each day, we made a pact to not waste the time we had finally been granted, seeking to dig into the lesser known. As we reflect now, seated deeply in autumn, our field post becomes an ode to that sentiment of exploration baked in the summertime warmth. — On a sunlit hill at the center of a rambling park in Stockholm sat a house on stilts with a large wall of windows reflecting the bright August day that was. In front of the house was a small and weathered gate with a sign reading: Carl Eldhs Ateljémuseum. We’d arrived at the perfectly preserved artist studio of the late Swedish sculptor, Carl Eldh (1873-1954). Though unassuming at first glance and appearing to have been born of the trees, proximity to the house revealed there to be humble set of intricacies at play. Overlooking the glistening Brunnsviken marina and the larger swath of parkland beyond, its setting conjured images of bucolic life in early twentieth century Stockholm.
For a brief grounding in context, Carl Eldh was one of Sweden’s most prominent sculptors. He is known for his depictions of the intimate moments between people and the celebration of the subtle and simple beauty of a human body. Born in Sweden but trained in France under the likes of Rodin, Eldh assumed an aesthetic that feels much more romantic than that of the typical Nordic pragmatism. His home and studio reflect this life of travel, collection and careful consideration for detail – walls swollen with hung artworks and floorboards creaking with the weight of his life’s work. He commissioned architect Ragnar Östberg (known for Stockholm city hall) to build this small compound as a place for indoor and outdoor work, to reflect and appreciate the beauty around him and to experience each distinct season from inside his workspace.
As with most of our field visits, the photos speak very clearly for themselves in terms of the inspiration we can garner. We are struck by the way in which the artwork contrasts to the simplicity of the architecture, but then becomes critical part of the entire experience of the space. The filling of the room is as beautiful as the vastness of the room. We also find it deeply inspiring to be in such a maximally filled space with few colours and materials – there’s plaster and there’s wood and they’re both in the same pale Swedish tone. The experience then becomes about the volumes and shapes and the topography they build together. The exterior of the building (being red) sits in contrast to the greenery but still appears in the berries dotting the side of the pathway.