Öyvind Fahlström: The Art of Writing

Öyvind Fahlström (1928-76), the Brazilian-born Swedish multi-artist, is one of the mid-twentieth century’s most intriguing cultural figures. His work, as profoundly political as it is aesthetic, spans two tumultuous decades in the avant-garde world and comprises concrete poetry (his own innovation), manifestos, plays, multiple prints, installations, sound poems, sculpture, and even architecture. Initially poorly received in Sweden and little appreciated in the English-speaking world, Fahlstrom is now increasingly recognized as an important figure in the world of art, with his work—especially his witty collages and interactive “games,” his photomontages and mini-installations—being shown around the globe.


The first study to give this major twentieth-century artist his due, this book serves as both an informative and entertaining introduction to Öyvind Fahlström and a valuable critical analysis of some of his most important works. The five works Bessa focuses on are his book of poetry Bord, the series of paintings Ade-Ledic-Nander, the radio play Birds in Sweden, the interactive painting The Painting (based on Natalie Sarraute’s novel Le Planetarium), and the series of game-paintings based on the board game Monopoly. Bessa’s Öyvind Fahlström is without precedent or parallel as an overview of Fahlström’s art, an assessment of his place in twentieth-century cultural history, and an examination of trends and movements, such as concretism, in which he figures large.