Iván Grünewald 1911-1996

Iván Maüsche Grünewald was born in Stockholm on 26th November 1911. He was a Swedish painter.

Iván Grünewald was the son of the Swedish expressionist painter and first generation modernist, Isaac Grünewald (1889-1946) and Sigrid Maria Hjertén (1885-1948), the Swedish painter and textile designer. When Iván was 9, his parents moved from Stockholm to Paris (in 1920), where they all remained until 1932.

Iván Grünewald first exhibited, as a teenager, at the Salon des Indépendants (formerly the Société des Artistes Indépendants) in Paris in the late 1920s when it was located in the vast basements of the Grand Palais

Grünewald initially wanted to be a concert pianist and he studied music in Paris for a year in 1929. In 1930, after assisting his father in the preparations for the Stockholm Exhibition (Stockholmsutställningen), Grünewald turned his attentions once again to painting and attended both the Académie Scandinave in Paris and the Konsthögskolan (Royal Institute of Art) in Stockholm until 1933. The Académie Scandinave was established in 1926 by Helena Börjeson as part of her Maison Watteau artists' community (that she had established in 1918) to encourage students from Scandinavia to learn under the tutelage of French teachers and to expose Scandinavian artists to a larger European audience. Kees Van Dongen, Jules Pascin and Per & Lucy Krohg were a few significant patrons of Maison Watteau.

In 1941, following his departure as professor at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, Isaac Grünewald founded his own art school. Iván became a teacher at the school and, following his father’s sudden death in 1946, became the head teacher (until 1956). In 1949 he toured the London art schools.

Iván Grünewald had five solo exhibitions at Galerie Moderne in Stockholm (1935, 1937, 1942 and 1952) as well as numerous group exhibitions around Sweden. Just before Grünewald’s 1952 exhibition at Galerie Moderne he announced that, since the early 1950s, he had ‘made a clean sweep of colour’ and had taken ‘the plunge to paint exclusively in white, gray and black’.

Iván Grünewald married twice. His first marriage was to Britta Palme whom he married in the mid 1930s. His second marriage was to the artist Maud Comstedt (1920-1984) in 1946. Together they had three children.

Iván Grünewald died in Saltsjöbaden on 23rd July 1996, aged 84

Examples of Iván Grünewald’s work are held in the collections of Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gävle Museum, Tel Aviv Museum of Art and L'Institut Tessin, Paris.


Isaac Grünewald (1889-1946)

Isaac Grünewald was a Swedish-Jewish expressionist painter born in Stockholm. He was the leading and central name in the first generation of Swedish modernists from 1910 up until his sudden death in 1946. Grünewald was a professor at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts between 1932 and 1942 and in 1941 he opened his own art school. During the Second World War Grünewald worked at the renowned Rörstrand porcelain factory.

‘The Young Ones’

In 1908, at the age of nineteen, Isaac Grünewald travelled to Paris to study at the Henri Matisse school at Hôtel Biron. Upon their return to Sweden in 1909 a group of Swedish students (including Tor Bjurström, Arthur Percy, Birger Simonsson and Sigfrid Ullman) from this school, under the direction of the flamboyant Issac Grunewald, exhibited as ‘The Young Ones’ (‘De Unga’) at the Hallin Gallery in Stockholm (the group is also sometimes refered to as ‘The Men of 1909’). The group dissolved in 1911, but they were responsible for introducing the avant-garde continental artistic (notably the fauvism of the Matisse school and the cubism of Picasso and his followers) to Sweden. These artists, along with Grünewald’s wife, Sigrid Hjertén (who had been excluded from ‘The Young Ones’ because she was a woman), are widely acknowledged as being responsible for introducing Modernism to Sweden.

Sigrid Hjertén (1885-1948)

Isaac Grünewald and Sigrid Hjertén met in Paris in 1909 when they were both student. They married just before the birth of their son, Iván, in 1911. Grünewald and Hjertén regularly exhibited together in Swedn and abroad. During this period anti-Semitism was both widespread and politically correct. Women artists were also frowned upon - their works were often the subject of ridicule in the press. Grünewald, who became the center of public controversy numerous times, became the number one target of anti-Semitism in the Swedish press between 1910 and 1926.

Sigrid Hjertén suffered from lifelong mental health problems that resulted in her being hospitalized for extended periods in the 1930s. When she was hospitalized permanently in 1937, Grünewald divorced her and remarried. In 1946 Grünewald and his second wife, Märta Grundell, were killed in an airplane crash.

Iván Grünewald