Livsreise - Life's Journey

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Herbjørn Gausta, Works from the Vesterheim’s collection. On display now.

Herbjørn Gausta may be the best-known artist of Norwegian ancestry, but most people only know him for altar paintings. Gausta did more than 400 altar paintings, but he also captured scenes of Norway and the Midwest, painted portraits, and made satirical drawings. Even the photographs he took in preparation for paintings are works of art.

Born in Telemark, Norway, Herbjørn Gausta came with his family as a young man to southeastern Minnesota. While studying at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, it quickly became clear that he should abandon his idea of becoming a teacher and pursue his talent for art. Local benefactors helped make it possible for him to study in Oslo and Munich.

Back in Minnesota, Gausta found some markets for his art. He was successful enough to be able to return to Norway to sketch, and later paint, what would become some of his most popular works. When a fire in his studio destroyed many of his sketches, he switched to photography in composing and capturing ideas for future paintings.

This exhibition includes examples, drawn from the collection of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, of each type of artwork to give you a more complete picture of the life, creativity, and artistic ability of Herbjørn Gausta.


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Livsreise is located in downtown Stoughton, WI – the birth place of the Coffee Break and home to many Norwegian immigrants from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.
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