Öyvind Fahlström

  • Born 1928 in São Paulo, Brazil
  • Died 1976 in Stockholm, Sweden

The work of Öyvind Fahlström drew on Pop art, mass media, and underground culture. His parents sent him to live with relatives in Sweden in 1939, where he remained during World War II. In 1948 he became a Swedish citizen and soon began to study art history and classical studies at the University of Stockholm. Fahlström supported himself with journalism, poetry, theater, translations, and criticism in the 1950s and ’60s. At a solo show at Gallery Numero in Florence (1953), he exhibited his drawing Opera, and his Manifesto for Concrete Poetry was published in 1954. He received scholarships to study in Italy (1958) and France (1960). In 1961, on a grant from the Sweden-America Foundation, he moved to New York, where he rented the studio once occupied by Robert Rauschenberg; Jasper Johns was his neighbor. Fahlström is known for his early attempt to create artworks that were variable (using magnets) and therefore interactive. He was concerned with the mechanisms of economics and politics, including the manipulation of information and data. His art includes pop imagery and comic strips and besides visual, theatrical, and literary works, he produced films and radio plays. Fahlström represented Sweden at the 33rd Venice Biennale (1966) with his installation Dr. Schweitzer’s Last Mission.