Luminous Lives

Luminous Lives

Long neglected by art historians, Anna-Eva Bergman (1909-87) was a painter of major importance who invested her work with an almost mystical ambition. The story of her life, told for the first time in this meticulously researched biography, is extraordinary: a Norwegian childhood that was constantly overshadowed by fear; a bohemian and adventurous youth that spanned much of Europe; a career as an illustrator; encounters in Nazi Germany; increasingly severe health problems; three marriages, two of which were to the same man (Bergman's fellow artist Hans Hartung); and a tragic end in the splendour of their villa in Antibes.

But above all Bergman's was a life dedicated to creation, often in defiance of fashion. Only recently has the scale of her achievement begun to be adequately acknowledged. Bergman undoubtedly enjoyed a distinguished career, crossing paths with such key artists as Wassily Kandinsky, Pierre Soulages and Mark Rothko. In many respects, however, she remained a marginal figure--little known in her homeland, and championed by only a handful of allies in France and the rest of Europe.

Characterised by the use of gold and silver leaf and by the distinctive rhythm of her lines, Bergman's paintings are hieratic and simplified, radical evocations of the great structuring forces of the universe--minerals, the elements, and even time itself. Thomas Schlesser's biography, which draws upon the considerable body of written material that Bergman left behind, at long last enables us to understand this extraordinary artist in all the complexity of her character and the dramatic circumstances of her life.

Publication Date: 
September 26, 2023