An exhibition of black-and-white photographs by Hjálmar R. Bárdarson (1918-2009), former director of the maritime administration, amateur photographer and book publisher, opens at the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavík today.
Bárdarsson’s career in photography spanned almost 80 years. He experienced three periods of photographic technique: black-and-white, color and digital, a press release describes.
His collection contains approximately 70,000 black-and-white photographs from 1932-1988, some of which new prints have now been made.
The photographs on display were taken early in Bárdarson’s career and until the 1970s. They feature city and country life and the photographer’s travels.
His pictures from the remote Hornstrandir region in the West Fjords from 1939 are considered unique as he documented a community which was about to resolve; the area is now uninhabited.
Decades later Bárdarson revisited the area and photographed the same locations: decaying human structures where nature was about to take control.
He also caught significant events on camera, such as the volcanic eruptions in the Westman Islands in 1973 and 1963-67 when the volcanic island Surtsey was created.
Bárdarson also liked to photograph people at work, such as laborers processing herring in Siglufjördur and artists. Even though he was a full-time official, he always found time to tend to his passion of photography.
In 1953 Bárdarson released Ísland farsaelda frón (“Iceland, Fortunate Counrty”), the first full-length photo book by an Icelandic photographer.
A selection of his books in various languages and a book released to accompany the exhibition will be available at the museum’s store.
Also today, the exhibition “Skipulag og óreida” (“Organization and Chaos”) of drawings inspired by old embroidery and weaving patterns by Ólöf Oddgeirsdóttir opens at the National Museum. Her work is an ode to the contribution of Icelandic women to visual art and handicraft through the ages.
For further information, visit the museum’s website.