Olof Krans Folk Art Painting on a Real Photo Postcard
An original real photo postcard from 1927 showing a magnificent naive painting by Olof Krans. Krans was a Swedish immigrant brought to Illinois at age 12 by his parents in 1850. They settled at Bishop Hill, as noted on the image, a utopian settlement founded by Devotionalists.
Olof Krans painted for much of his life, initially producing stage backdrops and signs. Could he have also painted backdrops for photographers? He worked at a photographer's studio in the late 19th century (according to the Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century American Folk Art and Artists by Chuck and Jan Rosenak) but his major works were done from 1900 to 1916. Estimates of his output range from 90 to 200 paintings. Many are portraits, but his best works are his farm scenes of prairie folk lined up as straight as a horizon. Sow straight and reap!
How, or why, one of his paintings was shown on this postcard (mailed in 1927) is beyond me.
In 1996 Krans was the subject of a 30 minute documentary produced in Sweden by Göran Gunér available for purchase HERE. A translated description of the film follows.
Målaren från Bishop Hill/The Painter of Bishop Hill
(30 min, 1996). Written, directed and produced by Göran Gunér. English narration.
This is the story of a Swedish Utopia on the prairie founded by a religious sect in 1846. Led by their prophet Erik Janson some 800 Swedes emigrated to the US this year, which also marks the start of mass emigration from a poor country in the north. Soon the prophet was murdered in a court house, but the colony continued to prosper until the breakout of the Civil War in the early 1860s.
Olof Krans, the painter of Bishop Hill (born in Sweden 1838, brought to Bishop Hill By his parents in 1850) recalled at old age his childhood memories and painted them with naïve charm. Through these images it is still possible to visualize this Utopia on the prairie. Bishop Hill is nowadays considered the most remarkable cultural monument outside Scandinavia. And Olof Krans is one of the most prominent names in American folk art. He has his own museum at Bishop Hill, Illinois, a few hours by car from Chicago.
Real Photo Postcard 1927 Olof Krans Painting Collection Jim Linderman
Books and ebooks by Jim Linderman are available HERE