Portraits without limits

by Magnus Laupa, Eric Broms and Fredrik Etoall

March 2014

In preparation for the Crossing Borders exhibition Nationalmuseum has acquired a representative selection of contemporary portrait photography for the Swedish National Portrait Gallery. The photographers span multiple generations, from Hans Gedda and Denise Grünstein to Eric Broms, Magnus Laupa and Fredrik Etoall. They all have their own distinct form of expression, taking their cues from advertising and fashion photography, cinema and video. The portraits are consciously staged and are sometimes purely theatrical in character. They include examples of intimacy and distance, of portraits that are up close and personal and those that are formal and official. Several of the portraits suggest that the genre is undergoing a renewal.

The photographs by Fredrik Etoall and Eric Broms feature suggestive cuts. Etoall captured the singer Robyn performing at Peace & Love in Borlänge in 2010. His photo of her outstretched hands is just as much a portrait as a conventional headshot. It exudes the same strength and originality as Robyn’s music. The same characteristics dominate Broms’ powerful portrait of Zlatan Ibrahimović, one of a series produced for the publication of the footballer’s autobiography in 2011. Because the photo has been cropped to show only part of the upper body and head, it suggests the subject is bigger than his surroundings and is destined to transcend boundaries.

For his 2005 portrait of actress Tuva Novotny, Magnus Laupa chose a more classic composition. He combines this with sophisticated humour, playfully alluding to his own profession by kitting out the subject with a camera and a large flash – familiar tools of the documentary photographer’s trade. Who is actually photographing whom?

The Swedish National Portrait Gallery is the oldest of its kind in the world and has been housed at Gripsholm Castle since 1822. It has been part of Nationalmuseum for 140 years. The ever-growing collection comprises almost 5,000 portraits. From the outset, the intention has been to feature subjects who have made valuable contributions to Sweden – the same as the idea behind the Crossing Borders exhibition. For many years, this concept was synonymous with the establishment, consisting mainly of elderly gentlemen. In more recent times, the collection has broadened its selection to include representatives of widely diverse sections of Swedish society.

Now, some of the great figures of our time have joined the collection, in the shape of Robyn, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Tuva Novotny – three Swedes who currently enjoy at least the same degree of international fame as Carl von Linné and August Strindberg did in their day. The acquisition of these contemporary portraits has been made possible by a generous donation from Gripsholmsföreningen (the Society of Friends of Gripsholm Castle). 

Inventory number
Eric Broms, Zlatan Ibrahimović, 2011, NMGrh 4951
Magnus Laupa, Tuva Novotny, 2005, NMGrh 4945
Fredrik Etoall, Robyn Carlsson, 2010, NMGrh 4953

Picture: Eric Broms, Zlatan Ibrahimović, 2011

Eric Broms, Zlatan Ibrahimović, 2011

Magnus Laupa, Tuva Novotny, 2005

Fredrik Etoall, Robyn Carlsson, 2010


Art Library and Museum Archives,
Holmamiralens väg 2,
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm 

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