February 5, 1871 - June 19, 1954
The Deines Cultural Center is currently the caretaker of three Birger Sandzén paintings owned by Russell High School.
Birger Sandzén (Sven Birger Sandzén), born in Vastergotland, Sweden, is known for his paintings, evolving from subdued tones into a post-Impressionist, expressionist style. His mature work used thick applications of bold color, and was compared in style to that of Vincent van Gogh and the Fave painters Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse.
Youth in Sweden
Growing up in Sweden, Sandzén had an early interest in the arts that was supported by a home environment offering great cultural resources. At the age of ten he entered Skara School to study art under Olof Erlandson, who graduated from the Royal Swedish Academy of the Arts, and Sandzén graduated in 1890 with honors.
Birger Sandzén in Stockholm
In 1891, Sandzén moved to Stockholm to apply to the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, however, the waiting list was too long, and instead he joined a class taught by Anders Zorn, Richard Bergh and Per Hasseberg. This small was later known as the Konstnärsförbundet or “Artists League.”
Move to Paris, France
Sandzén moved to Paris in 1894 to study under Edmond Aman-Jean who introduced him to pointillism, and was closely associated with Ernest Laurent and George Seurat in promoting Impressionism. He was greatly influenced by pointillism, and Sandzén's early work used these techniques and the tonalist approach to color relationships.
Lindsborg, Kansas and the United States
He then accepted a teaching position at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, and continued a long and distinguished career as an art professor and Impressionist painter in the United States. Sandzén's painting style developed into broad rhythmic strokes of pure colors that "optically blend" when viewed at a distance.
Sandzén traveled throughout the United States and Mexico, producing some of the paintings he is most well known for. He particularly enjoyed and painted views of the rugged Southwest mountains, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon in Utah, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon of Arizona, the Mesa Verde National Park cliff dwellings and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Sandzén painted many scenes of Kansas, including family farms in Graham County, Kansas; views of homesteads along the Great Plains; and scenes of the stream and limestone rock outcroppings near Wild Horse Creek.
Some of Birger Sandzén many paintings and prints include:
- Among the Hills, by Birger Sandzén, oil, (Kansas Public Library Collection, Kansas City)
- Cliff Walls, by Birger Sandzén, oil, (Kansas Public Library Collection, Kansas City)
- Badlands of the Southwest, by Birger Sandzén, oil, 10" x 14.25"
- Hills and Cottowoods, by Birger Sandzén, woodcut, 8" x 12"
- Portrait of Rosa Bragoli, by Birger Sandzén, 1891, oil, (Sandzén Gallery Collection)
- Sunset, by Birger Sandzén, 1911, oil, (Sandzén Gallery Collection)
- Untitled Graham County, Kansas Landscape and Farm Scene, by Birger Sandzén, 1912, oil, 12" x 18"
- Lilacs, by Birger Sandzén, 1916, oil, (Sandzén Gallery Collection)
- Untitled Moonrise over Coronado Heights, Lindsborg, Kansas, by Birger Sandzén, 1916-18, oil, 18" x 24"
- Creek at Moonrise (Chalk Beds), by Birger Sandzén, 1921, oil
- Wild Horse Creek (Chalk Beds), by Birger Sandzén, 1921, oil
- Untitled Colorado Mountain Landscape, by Birger Sandzén, 1922, oil, 24" x 18"
- Untitled Manitou Springs, Colorado, by Birger Sandzén, 1923, oil, 8" x 10"
- Timberline Pines, by Birger Sandzén, 1923, oil, 36" x 48"
- In the Heart of the Rockies, by Birger Sandzén, 1924, oil, 14" x 16"
- Lake Vanern, Coastal Study, Lecko, Sweden, by Birger Sandzén, 1924, oil, 12" x 16"
- Untitled Swedish Coastal Scene, by Birger Sandzén, 1924, oil, 20" x 24"
- Red Windmill, Rackeby, Sweden, by Birger Sandzén, 1926, oil, (Sandzén Gallery Collection)
- Riverbank, Smokey River, by Birger Sandzén, 1929, oil on board, 12" x 10"
- Twilight, Rock Mountain National Park by Birger Sandzén, 1929, oil on board, 20" x 16"
- Sunflowers, by Birger Sandzén, 1930, watercolor, (Sandzén Gallery Collection)
- Aspen Colors, by Birger Sandzén, 1930, watercolor, 12" x 9"
- Aspen by the Lake, by Birger Sandzén, 1931, lithograph 10" x 14"
- Lake at Moonrise, by Birger Sandzén, 1935, oil on board, 25" x 30"
- Nocturne, Utah, by Birger Sandzén, 195, oil, (Sandzén Gallery Collection)
- Chihucha Desert, California, by Birger Sandzén, 1940, watercolor, 10.75" x 14.5"
Recognition and Awards
In 1940, Sandzén was honored by the Swedish Government and was made a night of the Royal Order of Vasa and the Order of the North Star in recognition for promoting cultural relations and Sweden. Honorary doctorates were awarded to Sandzén from the Midland Lutheran College, the University of Nebraska and the Kansas State University. Sandzén and his work continue to be honored in the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, established in 1956 and located on the campus of Bethany College campus in Lidsborg, Kansas.