Updated: May 3
A monthly feature profiling an interesting person of Icelandic birth or ancestry found in the Icelandic Roots database.
This is the first of a series of articles for the newsletter that will profile an interesting Icelandic person from the Icelandic Roots database. With hundreds of years worth of interesting people, choosing just one is a challenge.
For our inaugural blog about Interesting People of Iceland born each month, for May we have chosen Ásmundur Sveinsson, I377121. A sculptor who created the striking portrait of Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir holding her son Snorri upon her shoulder. As we announce our 2023 Snorri Scholarship recipients this month, it seemed fitting to introduce Ásmundur from the Icelandic Roots database.
Ásmundur Sveinsson, I377121, was born 20 May 1893 at Kolsstaðir in Miðdölir, Dalasýsla. He died on 9 December 1982. He was married twice; first to Gunnfríður Mathildur Jónsdóttir I208517, whom he divorced, then married Ingrid Håkansson I416218. They had two daughters, Hallgerður I596294 and Ásdís I416219.
As a young man, Ásmundur studied woodcutting in Reykjavik while also attending the Technical College where he graduated in 1919. He then attended graduate studies in Copenhagen and his postgraduate studies in Stockholm where he was greatly influenced by a classical style. After studying in Paris, he travelled to Greece and Italy, returning to Iceland in 1929. Ásmundur was a teacher at the Reykjavik School of Visual Arts from 1947 to 1964.
His style of art evolved over the years. In his forty’s Asmunder’s style was more symbolic of the Icelandic peoples’ resilience, their way of life or existence. Later in the 1950s, his style became more open space within the sculpture itself, rendering a lightness with more movement. As Asmunder moved to working with metal, the styles became more abstract, forms became sharper and geometric. Regardless of the medium, Ásmundur’s work always captured harmony.
The home that he designed and built in Laugardalur, Reykjavík, was acquired by the City of Reykjavik after his death. Housing the works of Ásmundur, it was installed as a museum, called Ásmundarsafn. The sculpture garden nearby is open to public where one can view the sculptures and recognize the artist’s inspiration came from his beloved Icelandic people, its folklore and landscape. There are many of his sculptures located around the city of Reykjavik that can be viewed as one wanders the city.
We hope you enjoyed our interesting Icelander born in May. I invite you to read about Ásmundur in the Icelandic Roots database, as well as some of the others born in May. It is always interesting to engage the relationship tab and learn if he is an ancestor. Is he your ancestor? Do you have an ancestor who is an interesting person in Iceland born in May? Enjoy researching.
References used to research Ásmundur include:
Icelandic Roots database https://www.icelandicroots.com
Iceland Travel https://www.icelandtravel.is/attractions/asmundur-sveinsson/