LB°24 Participants

Augusta Strömberg

Augusta Strömberg (1866, Skuttunge–1954, Beckomberga). Luleåbiennalen 2020.

Augusta Strömberg (1866, Skuttunge–1954, Beckomberga).

Augusta Strömberg was born into a poor family of smallholder farmers in Skuttunge outside Uppsala in 1866. In 1896, she moved to New York to establish herself as an artist, but was instead met with adversity. She was soon diagnosed with schizophrenia, which, according to the doctors, was founded in her disappointed hopes, and the dreams never fulfilled. Upon her return to Sweden in 1900, she would spend her remaining 54 years at the Ulleråker and Beckomberga mental hospitals.

Despite this, she continued to paint throughout her life. Her artistic legacy is preserved by the Museum of Medical History in Uppsala. Strömberg’s peculiar image world often includes prophetic motifs with the artist herself in the role of protagonist – in turn, as female Messiah, saint or judge – with attributes from both the natural and the supernatural world.

In a style reminiscent of Russian Orthodox icon painting – sequential events depicted in parallel and on the same image – she portrays her everyday life at the hospital and the world that goes on outside; from agriculture to urban environments, housework to photographic processes. Strömberg gives clear contours to figures and objects, while placing them within a holistic context where the modern world meets traditional folk motifs. In her self-portrait as an artist, she appears in turn-of-the-century costume holding a completely new invention: an airbrush from the USA. She used this tool to create scenes where New York’s skyscrapers pose next to the Skuttunge church tower, and priests next to farmhands, merged into the same reality on a single picture plane. This is the first time Strömberg’s collected works have been shown in a larger art context.

Augusta Strömberg (1866, Skuttunge–1954, Beckomberga).

Thanks to the Museum of Medical History in Uppsala and the filmmaker Staffan Lamm who introduced Strömberg's work and life to us.

Augusta Strömberg (1866, Skuttunge–1954, Beckomberga). Luleåbiennalen 2020.


Thirteen paintings made at Ulleråker hospital 1900~1932
Mixed media


Galleri Syster, Luleå