A glimpse of Lindbergia

Swedish designer Stig Lindberg joined the Gustavsberg porcelain factory during the 1930s and was part of its family until his death in 1982. Working frenetically, he created both household items and solitaires, including such industrially manufactured series as Spisa Ribb (1955), Berså (1969) and Prunus (1962). Lindberg kept pace with his times. While he was accused of taking credit for design ideas created by both co-workers and students, the word receptive might be more correct — what he did was improve, refine and develop the concepts he discovered around him. And he borrowed freely from himself as well. Several of his household series of casseroles, bowls, coffee pots, plates and cups are cousins in that the basic form is the same. These base elements with simple, unpainted forms are extremely neatly dressed, or undressed, as the ornamentation of the period demanded. The dots of the 50s are replaced by seemingly pornographically ample flowers, only to give way to stylised leaves that turn into more complicated, even more stylised worlds with sexuality written between the lines. For that matter, a stripe could travel from the strict design of the 50s to the woollier and more rustic 70s.
––––The face is an ever-recurring subject for Stig Lindberg. It comes in an androgynous form, as a boyish man or a dignified woman — appearing sculptured, scratched into earthenware, painted on stoneware and on enamel or ceramic tiles. The many figures are sometimes joined by a ruffled bird, a caged egg, a ship in a bottle, labyrinths and pagoda-like buildings sticking out against the sky, creating together a storytelling atmosphere that is characteristic of Lindberg’s work. This is most apparent in the children’s books he illustrated, like Lennart Hellsing’s Krakel Spektakel, and in the pack of cards called Comedia (1958) with Lindbergian face cards and jokers. He has indeed peopled and furnished a whole universe with his very own design.
––––The biography published by Berndt Klyvare and Dag Widman in 1962, titled Stig Lindberg, Swedish Artist and Designer, is (in spite of its age) a vivid portrait of Lindberg. The ever-bespectacled man, he is correctly dressed in his white coat, a thin figure as easily recognisable as is the bow tie he generally wore. He is sooner a precocious boy than a youthful man. And much as the story figure Krakel, he has some outsider characteristics and sometimes seem to live in his own world. Nor would it be especially remarkable if Lindberg, like so many other creative individuals, managed to turn away from everyday necessities and imperfections into a self-created world. Only he knew where the gateway to that world lay. And he sooner would have died than reveal it.
––––Still, there are moments, generous ones, when he would offer a glimpse of his world by drawing it into our reality on a cup, a plate or perhaps the jack of hearts.

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