Discipline: Visual Art

Louisa Matthiasdottir

Discipline: Visual Art
MacDowell fellowships: 1956, 1957
Louisa Matthiasdottir (1917-2000) was an Icelandic-American painter. Her move to New York City in 1942 was followed by a period of study under Hans Hofmann, along with other painters including Robert De Niro, Sr. Louisa's first solo exhibition took place at Jane Street Gallery in New York in 1948. While her work of the 1950s saw her introducing elements of expressionism, from the 1960s until the end of her life she developed and refined the idiom of forthright color, uncluttered composition and brisk execution for which she is best known. The paintings of Louisa's final three decades include Icelandic landscapes, a series of self-portraits, and tabletop still-life arrangements. The landscapes often include charmingly stylized depictions of Icelandic horses and sheep. She was to remain an Icelandic citizen all her life, the physical characteristics of her native land informing her bold treatment of form and clarity of light. The poet John Ashbery described the result as the "flavor, both mellow and astringent, which no other painter gives us." In 1996, Louisa was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation's Cultural Award, and in 1998 became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She died in Delhi, New York in 2000. Her work is represented in many public collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. and the Reykjavík Art Museum.