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From the Kansas Historical Society: “It was fortunate for American art and Kansas when a young Swedish artist named Sven Birger Sandzén decided to emigrate to Lindsborg in 1894. Sandzén became one of Kansas’ best known artists.

“Born in 1871 in Sweden, Sandzén developed a love for art at a young age. Educated in Swedish universities, Sandzén went to Paris to study with masters where he was introduced to pointillism and Impressionism. Bethany’s founder, the Reverend C. A Swensson, encouraged the 23-year-old Sandzén to come to Bethany College to head the school’s art department.

“The artist’s early paintings have subdued hues; his later works in oil are more vivid. He portrayed his adopted state in a variety of ways—lithographs, drawings, watercolors, and oils. The drawings and prints range from appealing portraits of pioneers to the stone houses, trees, small streams, and broken country of west-central Kansas.

“In 1930 Sandzén helped organize the Prairie Print Makers Society to help spur an interest among artists, laymen, and collectors. He formed the Prairie Water Color Painters in 1933 to provide encouragement and training for young painters in the region.

“His favorite subject always remained the Kansas landscape. It has been said that through his unique painting style, he was able to transform these scenes into ‘opalescent jewels of shimmering colors.’ He was described as “the one painter in the United States who by-passed the art movements of the past forty years and reveals himself as a bridge between the impressionists and the so-called abstract expressionists” gave something to art in Kansas that is beyond measure.

“Sandzén never left Bethany for any extended period of time although he served as visiting faculty at a number of American universities and art schools. He spent many summers in the Southwest and much of his art reflects his interest in the mountains and their dramatic colors.”

The Artist
John S. Ankeney (Director of Dallas Fine Art Musuem 1929-1935), bequeathed to
Bethany College, Lindsborg, KS, 1946
[Auction in Santa Fe, Aug 13, 2011]
Private Collection, CA

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