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Kenneth Johansson
(Swedish, b. 1946)
Sled
1995
dolomite (granite), 14 1/2" x 48" x 9"
Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation Purchase

In 1996, twenty artists from Duluth, and an equal number from its sister city of Vaxjo, Sweden, participated in an exchange exhibition facilitated by the Tweed Museum of Art, the Vaxjo Konsthall, and their respective municipalities. Along with representative works by several other Swedish artists, Sled, by sculptor and painter Kenneth Johansson, was acquired in conjunction with the exchange.

A hard and dense type of granite, dolomite (also known as diabase), is mined in southern Sweden, near Johansson’s home of Dio. Sculptors worldwide revere the stone for the variety of surface qualities it yields. A sawed surface results in a gray tone; a broken surface renders a deeper gray, and when polished, diabase produces a rich black, reflective sheen. Originally trained as a painter, Johansson delights in the way the stone exhibits such shifts in value and color. In the words of Swedish art critic Mailis Stensman, he “uses the drill and grinder as if they were brushes.” Typically, Johansson’s sculptures are inspired by everyday functional objects in which he senses an inherent integrity of form. Although positioned sideways on one runner and broken unevenly at the back, Sled unmistakably reminds us of its namesake – both a recreational toy and a practical tool constantly in use during long Scandinavian winters. Johansson’s sculpture also cleverly refers back to the material from which it was fashioned; newly quarried blocks of stone were traditionally moved around on heavy-runnered sleds or sledges.

 
 
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