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The Gift to the People

14 December, 202120 November, 2022

ASÍ Art Museum’s Founding Collection from Ragnar Jónsson of Smári

It was big news when the entrepreneur Ragnar Jónsson, known for his margarine factory Smári, decided to donate his collection of paintings to the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ) in the summer of 1961. Jónsson’s wish was to establish an art museum that would present art to the working people of Iceland. ASÍ Art Museum was founded with Jónsson´s donation of 147 works, a collection that includes works by the most renowned Icelandic artists from the last century.

Ragnar Jónsson built his collection around a core of large, arresting works by five painters whom he ranked as being the most celebrated artists of their time. They were Ásgrímur Jónsson, Jóhannes S. Kjarval, Jón Stefánsson, Gunnlaugur Scheving and Þorvaldur Skúlason.

In emphasizing these five artists, this exhibition seeks to convey the gist of Ragnar’s acquisition policy and to reflect his view of Icelandic art history. The exhibition is a collaborative project between Akureyri Art Museum and ASÍ Art Museum.

Curator: Kristín G. Guðnadóttir, art historian.