Artwork and Architecture of Iceland

One thing you may notice as you walk the streets of Reykjavik and other urban areas of Iceland is that most of the artwork looks and feels like the landscapes of Iceland. The art galleries are filled with sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs all showing either an emotion evoked or a literal interpretation of the landscapes you experience as you explore the island. You may see sculptures that look like the waterfalls crawling their way down the mountaintops. You may also see others that defy gravity and are inspired by the geysers bursting up through the earth. Or you may notice dark quirky portraits of individuals that elicit emotions similar to those you feel as you drive through the moss covered lava lands. Even sculptures inspired by Icelandic history tend to merge with their surroundings; for example the work of Jón Gunnar Árnason, The Sun Voyager, in Reykjavik is enveloped by the ocean and the skies and is placed in a way that allows it to sing to the sun a dream of hope and progress as intended by the artist.

Another thing you may notice is that Icelandic architecture is filled with geometrical designs found in the natural landscape. For example, the basalt columns of the Black Sand Beach in Vik can be found as inspiration for the Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik and many other buildings. It is most rewarding to walk through the cities and notice these inspirations and how the homes and buildings typically have a direct relationship with their surroundings. Many of the homes use large windows to reflect the snowy landscapes or the oceanic backdrops allowing them to merge beautifully with the nature. For example, the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik built on the western coast of the North Atlantic Ocean has a dark glass façade with drops of color inspired by the basalt landscapes of Iceland. It additionally merges beautifully at certain times of day with its oceanic landscape.

While there is not necessarily many colors found in the natural landscapes, Icelandic artwork tends to explore color in unimaginable ways. The murals throughout Reykjavik, convey political or inspirational messages with combinations of colors that provide a stark contrast to its landscape. While minimally found in the natural surroundings, the expansive colors used are often inspired by the colors found in the northern lights throughout certain times of year. While this may not always be intentional, these inspirations are often seen built into the cultural landscapes of the country. As you adventure through Iceland, make sure to observe the architecture and artwork, its relationship with its surroundings, and their inspirations of natural landmarks and this will make your trip that much more enjoyable!

 

The Sun Voyager by Jón Gunnar Árnason in Reykjavik Photo from: https://iceland-photo-tours.com/photos-of-solfar-sun-voyager/

The Sun Voyager by Jón Gunnar Árnason in Reykjavik Photo from: https://iceland.nordicvisitor.com/travel-guide/attractions/reykjavik-capital-area/seafront-and-voyager/

What feelings does this artwork elicit for you? Painting found in one of the many art museums of Reykjavik.

An emotional piece found in one of the many museums of art in Reykjavik.

Street art in Reykjavik
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/iceland/articles/where-to-find-the-best-street-art-in-reykjavik/

Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik

Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik

These bowls were for sale at the Harpa gift shop and look very much like the snowy glaciers or ice caves you may have the opportunity to explore!

Mural on the streets of Reykjavik
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/iceland/articles/where-to-find-the-best-street-art-in-reykjavik/

Portrait found for sale in one of the local shops in Reykjavik

Portrait found for sale in one of the local shops in Reykjavik. The words to the left of the portrait read, “So, she decided she liked him better as a necklace.” This is a great example of the wonderful dark humor you may also notice as you explore Icelandic art!

 

Mural on the streets of Reykjavik
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/iceland/articles/where-to-find-the-best-street-art-in-reykjavik/

 

 

Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Vik

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Vik

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Vik

Notice the basalt columns at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Vik

Jökulsárlón a beautiful glacier lagoon

Jökulsárlón a beautiful glacier lagoon

Exploring an ice cave near Svínafellsjökull Glacier

Exploring an ice cave near Svínafellsjökull Glacier

Exploring an ice cave near Svínafellsjökull Glacier