Framed. The Photographs of Bjørn Winsnes

1 September 2017–14 January 2018

The National Museum – Architecture, The Vault

From the 1950s, an artistic trend emerged in European architectural photography. A number of photographers explored architectonic form as a means of artistic expression. In Norway, Bjørn Winsnes (1925–2012) was the foremost exponent of this movement.

A subjective view of architecture

The photographs in this exhibition depict buildings by architects such as Erling Viksjø, Eliassen and Lambertz-Nilssen, Robert Esdaile and Geir Grung. Winsnes highlights the sculptural shapes and tactile surfaces of the architecture. Many of the photos appear as abstract compositions; others give insight into a social setting, as was typical of Nordic architectural photography of the period.

Photography as an art form

The exhibition also presents works by Winsnes that may be associated with the term “creative photography”.

As early as the mid-1950s, Winsnes joined a group of photographers, including Kjell Sten Tollefsen, Berit Pettersen, Liv Ellingsen and Ivar Øiesvold, working to promote photography as an independent art form. The artist Gunnar S. Gundersen was an important source of inspiration for the group, particularly his ideas on abstract composition.

In 1969, Winsnes was the first photographer to receive a grant for artists from Arts Council Norway. He also had a hand in establishing Forbundet Frie Fotografer, a national organisation for photographers and camera-based artists, in 1974.

His works as a photographer of architecture have received little attention in the context of both history of architecture and history of photography. This exhibition highlights how his experimental approach contrasted conventional architectural photography of the period, and sheds new light on Norwegian architectural photography as the 1950s gave way to the 1960s.

Many of Winsnes’s photographs from the collection are exhibited here for the first time. The exhibition also includes photographs on loan from Preus Museum by Winsnes and Kjell Sten Tollefsen.