Inspired by Light & Colour
Amy Berg was a cosmopolitan Norwegian artist whose career spanned more than six decades. At an early age she knew that she wanted to be a painter, and in 1939 she presented her first exhibition in her hometown Ålesund, Sunnmøre on the west coast of Norway. She was then only 22 years old.
Amy began studies at the National Arts and Crafts School in Oslo under Karl Høgberg and Per Krohg. During the Nazi occupation of Norway, she was part of the Illegale Akademi. Subsequent to Liberation, she continued her studies in painting at the National Academy of Fine Art under professors and well-known painters, Axel Revold and Jean Heiberg. Subsequently, Amy completed a Masters Degree in Fine Arts - Applied Arts Education at the University of Minnesota and visited Mexico for the first time, before returning to Norway.
In 1949 she left for Paris where she was invited to attend l’Académie André Lhote by the famous French painter and art theorist. She also studied at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 where she learned printmaking. Her main medium was oil paintings, as well as watercolours, but she also created many graphic artworks including lithographs and etchings.
In Paris, Amy met her husband, the American writer and journalist Robert Rigby, and she moved with him around the continent. Amy and Robert had two sons, Christian and Michael, who now reside in the US and Europe.
View of Aalesund, Amy Berg’s birthplace whose magical light was a frequent inspiration.
The painter and eldest son at the November 1996 Opening of a major exhibit at the Sunnmøre Museum, Norway.
In 1960, subsequent to living in Paris, Amy Berg moved with her family to Menton on the French Côte d’Azur. The intense colours of Mediterranean became more evident in her oil paintings after her many visits and life in the south of France and subsequent moves to Spain (Madrid, Ibiza and Mallorca). The family also lived many years in Italy, Norway, Switzerland and New York, and in between in the early 1960's, Amy ran an art school in her hometown Ålesund for a few years, with the most prominent student being the well-known Norwegian artist Ørnulf Opdahl.
In 1979, Amy decided to divide her time between Manhattan, Norway, France and Mexico with continued travels around the world to capture its beauty in painting and watercolours. In the late 1970s and 1980s she had some very productive periods in Mexico. Amy lived and worked in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, the latter being the residence for many years of the artists Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo.
Among Amy Berg’s strong stylistic influences, one may cite that of Paul Cézanne. One of her teachers, André Lhote, was also deeply inspired by Cézanne as well as Georges Braque, one of the founders of Cubism. Lhote developed a more colourful and figurative form of Cubism, often called French Cubism evident in his works in the Musée d’Art in Bordeaux. These link with the works of Amy Berg. She was also profoundly influenced by Henri Matisse (who her professor, Jean Heiberg was a student with during 1908-1910, as was another professor, Per Krohg) and other Fauvist artists, especially for their light and vivid, and sometimes arbitrary colours. In Amy's later years, the Sunnmøre region’s rapidly changing weather with its effect on light and colour became a recurrent theme in much of her work.
Amy Berg was an important and respected member of the Norwegian art scene. She had many solo exhibitions in Norway (Kristiansund and Ålesund Kunstforening), Paris, New York and elsewhere in the US and locally, and was represented at the annual exhibitions Vestlandsutstillinga and Høstutstillingen in Bergen. Her last major exhibit was at the Sunnmøre Museum in 1996.
Subsequent to her passing in 2000, Amy had a retrospective at the Ålesund Kunstforening
Press release for Amy Berg’s Posthumous Retrospective in 2002
Her work can be found at the Coffman Galleries and the Tweed Museum in Minnesota, Nordea Bank, Norway, as well as various other Norwegian banks’ permanent collections (Sunnmørebanken, Sparebanken, Borgundbanken); newpapers (Sunnmøreposten); Grupo de Arte Grafico, San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, as well as the Rolf Stranger collection in Oslo, the Kjell Holm Foundation Art Collection; the Söderholm Galleries in Sweden and the Norwegian Cultural Council (Norsk Kulturåd). She received several government awards, and was one of the first artists to be honoured with the Norwegian Government Grant for Artists. She is listed in the Norwegian Painters Lexicon (Norsk Kunstnarleksikon).
Amy kept busy creating new art works and teaching art even in her late years - a talented and dedicated artist whose works are still vibrant and full of life today.