Anna-Eva Bergman
3 min
Anna-Eva Bergman, «Composition», 1951 © Bergman, Anna-Eva / BONO Photo: Børre Høstland / Nasjonalmuseet


Actor portraying Anne-Eva Bergman 

When I started to incorporate metal into my technique, I found my own personal way into painting… 



Towards the end of the 1950s, Anna-Eva Bergman began experimenting with metal leaf in her paintings. The technique has a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages and was used in altarpieces and church decorations. 


Bergman made the technique her own and worked with different metals. This way, she was able to create light in the image and utilize the effect of gold, silver, or copper. 


Composition was painted on commission from Hotell Farris Bad in Larvik for the hotel's new bar. The image is a triptych – a three-part image. When the artwork was painted, Bergman was part of the artists' collective on Citadel Island outside Stavern, south of Oslo. On Citadel Island, she had studied the various rock formations, and the characteristic geology of this coastal area. During this period, she took the step from a figurative to an abstract expression. 

Composition, is a good example of this change in her artistry. 


For Bergman, the abstract was not about turning one's back on nature, but about uncovering new aspects of it. As early as 1950, she wrote: 


Actor portraying Anne-Eva Bergman: 

"To create something ‘abstract’ one has to study nature […] both the nature that surrounds us, and the nature within us – our own inner nature". 



In Composition, she produces large, clear forms, reminiscent of rock formations or islands. She uses brown and gray tones, a muted colour scheme, only broken by touches of strong, almost rainbow-like colours.  


Composition was installed in 1951, but the hotel bar in Larvik had a short life. The work then found its way to the breakfast room in Hotel Royal in Oslo, where it caused outrage among the hotel's guests! The Norwegian public was not familiar with abstract art…  

Composition disappeared from public view until it came up for sale at auction in 2013 and was purchased for the National Museum's collection. The painting is now exhibited for the first time in its entirety.  


This is the largest work we know of by Anne-Eva Bergman before she left Norway for Paris in 1952. It is an ambitious work that shows her orientation towards the abstract with references to nature and the use of metal leaf. Composition was the first, and what was to become the only, decorative commission Bergman received and carried out during her career.