Category Archives: Art

The Roots of Reykjavik Architecture

Do you wonder why Reykjavik looks like Reykjavik? 

For the answer, go to the Northeast.

Bustarfell, near Vopnafjörður.

Note the multiplicity of small houses, all that turf and driftwood and the strength of a horse can manage …

… with many dark passages leading to faint light…

… sometimes brighter…

…and all joined together by spontaneous organic design…

And then back to Reykjavik you go, this time with the delight of recognition…

Splendid.

It’s improv theatre!

This is the kind of history the Icelandic National Museum doesn’t cover. Best to get lost on your way there, I think.

Politicizing the Shop Window Tradition in Reykjavik

For Icelandic National Day, June 17, Icelanders gather in celebration., with speeches in town squares, national flag dresses for girls (or at least princess party dresses for the very young set), blow-up carnival rides, lots of coffee, and, as you can see from this photo taken in Reykjavik the day before, at least one politically-pointed unicorn..

Reykjavik’s shop windows: an informal national gallery with a point.

A Forest in the Hills: The Icelandic Version

Vatnsdalarhólar

The hills are famous as being too many to count. The forests, well, that is another matter. And the sheep, whew. They were out the other day, waiting to be taken to the high country. Sheep everywhere!

Gunnar Gunnarson’s dream was to transform his novels about Icelandic country people into a farm employing Icelandic country people, and run it like a novel. Unfortunately, Gunnar got the idea from living for thirty years in Denmark, where he picked up this well-meaning but colonial idea. The contemporary. and up-dated version of the best of Gunnar’s idea of translating a book into life is the Icelandic love of building a forest and then holidaying within it, to return to an Iceland renewed from the degradations and desperations of its poverty, back to the beautiful, forested land in the mid-Atlantic. In other words, Gunnar was on the right track, except he forget to plant the trees!