American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Artist Name:         Birger Sandzen
Artist Dates:         1871 - 1954
Painting Title:      
Painting Date:      Undated
Oil on Artist Board
Signed LowerRight
Private Collection
Size Unframed:     12 x 10
Frame Condition:  
Mint Reproduction
Artist Best Price:   $632,500
Offered At:           
Curator's Comments: Sandzen (pronounced Sand-zane) dominates from the Mississippi to the Rockies, typically painting in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. His focus may account for the fact that famed investor Warren Buffett once owned a Sandzen. More important, Sandzen's fauvist impressionism grows out of the heavy metallic soils of the foothills and the vibrant colors released by the spring rains that struggle hard to bring life in the form of the wind twisted poplars, aspens, cottonwoods, junipers and scrub pines that he loved to paint. His rich imposto shows nature redefining the beauty of his arid landscape and its fierce spring bursts of color seen nowhere else. "My gift to America," he wrote, "is to make one realize how beautiful the simplest landscape is and how alive, vigorous and changing our trees and rocks are." Only when he was able "to understand the country about me and about its formation," Sandzen emphasized, "could I paint an American landscape and show how beautiful it was to those who had not yet realized how lovely America is. The gift of understanding beauty is the greatest anyone can make to another human being."

Born in Blidsberg, Sweden, as a child Sandzen studied under Olof Erlandsson at the College and Academy of Skara, and went on to Lund University. He joined a group of young artists at Anders Zornís suggestion, and studied with both Zorn and portrait painter Richard Bergh, before leaving for Paris to study with Aman Jean, who shared a studio with Georges Seurat, and where he began to associate with American students. On returning home in 1894, he read
I Sverige by the young Swedish-American educator, Dr. Carl A. Swensson, a college president who told of his struggles on the plains of Kansas and challenged other young Swedes to come help him. Sandzen was excited by the proposition and wrote Swensson a letter asking if he could use a young artist who could sing tenor and teach French. As soon as Sandzen received the cable offering him a job, he accepted. Birger soon realized Lindborg was where he wanted to make his home with the inspiring atmosphere of the new College and energy of the young teachers and president. He built a home, where he continued to live for fifty-four years. In 1900 he married Augusta Alfrida Leksell, a gifted pianist. He remained on the faculty until 1946. He first painted in the Colorado Springs area in 1916, and became a frequent visitor to Santa Fe and Taos, beginning in 1918. He spent the summers of 1923-24 teaching at the Broadmoor Academy in Colorado Springs. Sandzen also taught in Denver, at the Kansas City Art Institute, and Utah State, in Logan, the repeated setting for many of his Poplar pieces including our offering (see below for another version at moonrise). His early work was Tonalist in style in the manner of Scandinavian Romanticism, but after he began taking trips to Colorado, with the Rocky Mountains as subject, his work became much more Expressionist and Fauvist, as he evolved a very personal style of bold color and with masses of paint, akin to that of Vincent Van Gogh and Fauve painters Paul Cezanne and Henri Matisse. His work is in the collections of the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the Museum of New Mexico, the Wichita Art Museum, the Museum of Nebraska Art, and many others.
Sandzen at Work, ca. 1920
Autumn Symphony recently sold for $495,000 More Poplars--Moonrise in Logan, Utah brought $150,00
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