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ELOF WEDIN (1901-1983)
Elof Wedin was born near Harnosand, along the fjords of the east coast of Sweden in 1901. He was the youngest of six children orphaned early by the death of both mother and father. He immigrated to the United States in 1919 and settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having a talent and compassion for art at a young age, he took night classes at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in the early 1920s. Also in 1920s he married Lillian Westman and they had two sons, Winslow and Gary. In 1926, Wedin entered the Art Institute of Chicago to study under George Oberteuffer, a well-known teacher and artist of that period. Two years later, he returned to Minneapolis and took a job doing duct work and pipe coverings for boilers while pursuing his fine art after work and on weekends in a studio he set up in the garage of their north Minneapolis home.
With talent and interest in portraiture but with little demand for them in Minneapolis at that time, he did portraits and “character studies” of family, friends, and neighbors. During the 1930s, his portraits became more modernist in style, many with oval faces and elongated features, resembling portraits of the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani.
In addition to portraits, he also painted landscapes, an interest that was stirred in 1933 and was the subject of his entry in the 1934 Minnesota State Fair. During the 1930s Wedin participated in the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project, which focused him on regionalism and depicting his immediate surroundings such as street scenes, small towns and the North Shore of Minnesota. However, unlike many regionalists, he often did views in a highly abstract geometric style. His landscapes of the 30s and 40s had flattened space with no perspective, minimal sky, and buildings shown only as angular shapes, and from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s, Wedin’s style grew into abstract expressionism.
Throughout his long career, he exhibited work in the Midwest and throughout the country. He received numerous awards from The Minneapolis Institute of Arts annual shows, The Minnesota State Fair Exhibitions, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Swedish-American Clubs of Minneapolis and Chicago, The Women's Club of Minneapolis, Hudson Walker Gallery of New York City, Walker Art Center of Minneapolis, San Francisco Exhibition, The First New York American Artist Exhibit and The Los Angeles County Exposition.
Wedin's numerous one-man shows included two at the Hudson Walker Gallery in New York City, three at The Harriet Hanley Gallery, Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, three at the Kilbride-Bradley Gallery in Minneapolis, MAA Gallery Minneapolis, Bethel College, Bjorkman Gallery, Minneapolis, and others. He also exhibited at the Rockefeller Center, New York City, San Francisco Worlds Fair, Swedish Club Detroit, Swedish Club Minneapolis, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, University of Minnesota, Los Angeles County Museum and Women's Club of Minneapolis.
Wedin’s work is represented in major private and institutional collections, such as those of Walker Art Center, Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota Historical Society, Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, and the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
Elof Wedin is featured, along with three other renowned Minnesota artists (Dewey Albinson, Cameron Booth, and Clement Haupers), in a book entitled "Minnesota Modern - Four Artists of the Twentieth Century." This beautiful book, published by Afton Press, is available for purchase at Gallery 5004.