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October 11, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - ,, 2 comments

Post from Norway: Odd Nerdrum Denied Painting Privileges (Part III)

by Therese Veier

As to the issue of denying Nerdrum to paint, convicts in Norway are usually encouraged to paint or take art classes during their time in prison. The Justice department states to the media, that according to Norwegian laws, it is forbidden to exercise business while in prison. Since Nerdrum makes his livelihood by painting art works, he can possibly make money by selling the works he paints in prison either during or after his sentence is completed.

Nedrum is a controversial person in Norway - many find him provocative and his painting style dated. But personal feelings set aside, is it a lot harder for an artist to be forced not to make art for a limited time period than it is for people in other occupations to be denied performing their occupations?

Is anyone familiar with other similar cases regarding artists and; messy accounting, lack of reporting income, tax evasion, and being refrained from making art for a certain duration of time?

The verdict from the district court has been appealed, and might change in a higher court, but still the verdict is sending a signal to artists and other professionals.

Facts about Odd Nerdum (1944 - ):

Norwegian figurative painter. Some call him a modern classicist.

After studying at the Art Academy in Oslo, Nerdrum later studied with Joseph Beuys, at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

His primary influences are Carvaggio, Rembrandt and Tizian. One of his most known works are "The Killing of Andreas Baader" from 1977-1978, where he portraits the terrorist as a victim.

His opinions on art have caused several media debates the past 30 years. About 10-12 years ago Nerdrum stated that his art should be understood as kitsch rather than art as such. "On Kitsch", a manifesto composed by Nerdrum describes the distinction he makes between kitsch and art.
Nerdum suffers from Tourettes syndrome.

In 2002 he officially claimed that he would never again make any comments or statements to the Norwegian press.

Over the years Nerdrum has had several pupils / assistants that have wanted to learn his craft because his approach to painting is based on traditional methods that include mixing and grinding his own pigments, working on canvas he had stretched or stretched by assistants rather than on pre-stretched canvas, and working from live models often himself, and in many cases members of his own family. Several of his pupils have said that they feel like outcasts who are not respected in art circles because they aspire to paint figuratively and are inspired by renaissance and baroque artists.

In December 2003 Nerdrum left Norway and bought a house on Island, a country he had travelled to for several years. The landscape on Island, especially the volcanoes and the color of the soil has been of particular interest to the artist, and often served as backdrop for his paintings. In 2011 the artist returned to Norway, he currently resides at Rødvik farm in the Norwegian city Stavern.


Again, I have to point out that this entire series of articles have a biased tone.

First, Nerdrum was not charged with the crime of not paying his taxes. The charge against him was that he intentionally hid money.

If we look objectively at the evidence, we see that Nerdrum's guilt has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And this is a major reason the sentence has been overturned.

If you want to see the facts, you can find them at

Again, I am sorry that you interpret my series of articles as prejudiced and that I presume the artists guilt in this matter because this was never my intention. As I stated my articles (the three part series) where based on facts available to the press and media in October last year when they where written.

My point in specifically writing about the court denying him to paint was to raise an awareness about weather it was a lot crueller to deny an artist the right to perform his occupation, that is to make art, although for a limited duration of time, than it would be for most other individuals to be denied the opportunity to do their work. Because I think that this is a much crueler punishment to inflict upon an artist.