LUDVIG EIKAAS (1920-2010)
Painter, graphic artist, drawer and sculptor Ludvig Eikaas, from Jølster, was one of the most distinctive Norwegian visual artists of the post-war era. He was a pioneer of non-figurative art in the late 1940s along with Gunnar S. Gundersen, Odd Tandberg, Tor Hoff, Inger Sitter, Jakob Weidemann and Knut Rumohr. 

Eikaas reverted relatively quickly to a more figurative style, although his stylistic idiom remained abstract and streamlined. He is especially well known for his woodcuts and a large number of portraits and self-portraits, often with surprising and amusing points of view. He was an experimental and spontaneous artist who never settled for one technique or one specific idiom. Among other things, he was the first artist to use rigid plastic in sculptures. 

When Eikaas was young he moved to Oslo, where he studied at the National College of Arts and Design and later at the Norwegian National Academy of Arts before moving on to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. His public debut was at the National Annual Autumn Exhibition in 1946, and subsequently his works were exhibited often both in Norway and abroad.

Starting in 1970 he was a professor at the Norwegian National Academy of Arts, and he served as the Academy’s headmaster from 1981 to 1983. Eikaas is currently represented at around 10 Norwegian art museums in addition to the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, the Grand Palais in Paris and the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. He was married to textile artist Synnøve Anker Aurdal (1908-2000). In 2000 Eikaas was awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Knight First Class, for his art and his communication skills. 

The gallery opened in 1994, and was incorporated into the Sogn og Fjordane Museum of Fine Art in 2004. The old dairy in Ålhus was purchased and converted into a modern art gallery, designed by architect Arild Waage, in order to house the art collection Ludvig Eikaas donated to the municipality. The gallery, which is wheelchair accessible, is in Ålhus on the E39 motorway, near the Jølstravatnet lake, and has its own beach. The gallery shop sells prints, cards, books and other items. A café offers light meals both outdoors and indoors.

Ludvig Eikaas donated this collection to the municipality of Jølster. The collection now comprises over 850 works in a variety of techniques: graphic art, paintings, sculptures, printing plates, collages, readymades, etc. 

Some of the recurring motifs in Eikaas’s art were animals, still lifes, urbanity and abstraction, city life, media-related and text-based works, self-portraits, family portraits, artists and their patrons, portrayals of working life and workers, music and famous musicians. 

Around a third of the collection consists of portraits. Of these, 68 are self-portraits and 26 are portraits of family members. Influential figures in Norwegian cultural and community life from the 1950s to the 1990s are portrayed in 116 works. The collection includes 18 portraits that were commissioned from Eikaas. Thirty-eight portraits are of people who have not yet been identified. Most of the portraits are completed works, while some are sketches.

The woodcut Portrett av min far (Portrait of My Father) (EG 064) is the oldest portrait in the collection. It was carved in 1943 while Eikaas was studying at the National College of Arts and Design. This portrait seems to have been inspired by some of Nikolai Astrup’s black and white woodcuts. Most of the portraits of his family were made in the period just before and after 1960, and they include both his son Stig and his stepdaughter Siri Aurdal. The oldest portrait we have of his wife, Synnøve Anker Aurdal, is a painting from 1959, and the oldest dated self-portrait in the collection is from 1961. In subsequent decades he would portray both himself and Synnøve at regular intervals.