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John Savio

Landscape at Svolvær

Landscape at Svolvær

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About the original:

An artist is born

It is said that Savio's first known drawing of a reindeer was made in his grandmother's Bible when he was four years old. During his upbringing, he lived in several different places in Northern Norway. From the time he is around 18 years old, he spends a lot of time in Oslo. Savio, who has little formal art education, was for a time associated with the Norwegian School of Handicrafts and Art Industry. Visits to the National Gallery, exhibitions in the capital and studies of art in books become important. He studies woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer, Felix Vallotton and Japanese artists. Similarly, art by Edvard Munch, Nikolai Astrup and Gustav Vigeland become sources of inspiration for Savio. It is at this time that he begins to experiment with woodcuts. Alongside graphics and drawing, Savio works with painting and watercolour.

Rein

The well-known motif Reindeer calves, with its stylized and clear depiction of running reindeer calves in a rhythmic pattern, has almost become a symbol of Finnmarksvidda's culture. With his roots and upbringing in Sami culture, Savio depicts his own people's life and struggle for existence. Here, the reindeer has an overarching role, with symbolic power. A consistent feature in several of the images is animals in motion. His motifs are inspired by impressions from growing up.

The good life

Several woodcuts, such as Pulkkjørere, depict speed and excitement. In other motifs, he tells about folk life and the close contact between people and animals. The lasso thrower motifs, where young boys practice throwing the lasso, can almost be followed like a cartoon. Perhaps he was involved in this himself as a young boy? Other pictures depict the youth's joy and anticipation or the simple and strong life - close to nature.

From workshop in a suitcase to popular collector's items

When Savio dies, he leaves behind a suitcase with wooden boards, cutting tools and prints. With simple means, he creates approximately 150 different motifs in woodcuts and linoleum cuts during his short life. Usually they are printed in editions of 100. Savio rarely dates his prints, but most were probably produced between 1920 and 1934.

Savio's woodcuts are characterized by a simple but varied cutting style with an emphasis on the contrast between black and white. In several cases, we know drawings which indicate that he transfers this to the wooden board before he carves out the motif. He prints the woodcuts in black and white. In addition, he hand-colours a number of the motifs, partly with strong watercolors which probably stem from the clear, strong colors in the Sami jackets.

In 1930 he made his debut with a solo exhibition in Tromsø. From 1933 he travels abroad several times, and in 1936 an exhibition is held in Paris dedicated to Savio's art. In 1939 and 1941, memorial exhibitions about him were held in Oslo. Today, Savio's powerful woodcuts are well known and in demand.

Date: Between 1928 and 1934

Other titles: Landscape near Svolvær (ENG)

Eanadat Spoalavuolis (SAM)

Designation:

Graphics

Material and technique: Woodcut on paper

Technique: Woodcut

Material: Paper

Dimensions: 279 x 242 mm

Circulation: 98/100

Subject: Visual arts

Classification: 532 - Visual arts

Type of motif: Landscape

Acquisition: Purchased 2018

Inventory no.: NMK.2018.0050

Registration level: Single object

Owner and collection: The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Visual Art Collections

Photo: Børre Høstland/Høstland, Børre

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John Savio

John Andreas Savio was a Norwegian artist who was born in 1902 and died in 1938. He is best known for his woodcuts that thematize Sami culture and way of life, as well as landscapes and folk life in northern Norway. Savio had little formal art education, but was associated with the Norwegian School of Handicrafts and Art Industry for a period. He was inspired by artists such as Edvard Munch, Nikolai Astrup and Gustav Vigeland, as well as woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer, Felix Vallotton and Japanese artists. Savio experimented with woodcuts and created approximately 150 different motifs during his short life. His most famous motif is Reindeer Calves, which, with its stylized and clear representation of running reindeer calves in a rhythmic pattern, has become a symbol of Finnmarksvidda's culture. Savio also depicted folk life and the close contact between people and animals in several of his motifs. He used a simple but varied carving style with an emphasis on the contrast between black and white, and printed the woodcuts in black and white. Some of his motifs were also hand-coloured. Savio debuted with a solo exhibition in Tromsø in 1930 and had exhibitions abroad, including an exhibition in Paris in 1936. After his death, memorial exhibitions about him were held in Oslo. Today, Savio's powerful woodcuts are well known and sought after as collectors' items. His artistry testifies to his connection to Northern Norway and his portrayal of Sami culture and way of life.