Laila Prytz 1907-1982
Laila Margareta Elisabet Prytz was a unique Swedish painter born in Gällivare, up in the very north of Sweden. She later spent her life mainly in Stockholm and Paris, but traveling widely around the globe.
Prytz studied under Otte Sköld in Stockholm and travelled to Spain, France, Italy and Germany. She returned to France in 1933 to study under the French sculptor, painter and writer André Lhote (1885-1962) in Paris. It was during her time in Paris that Prytz met, and in 1932 married, the Swedish artist Wilhelm Wik (1897-1987). Together they travelled to Egypt, East Africa, India and Japan.
Prytz first solo exhibition was at legendary Galleri Gummesons in Stockholm in 1945, which was followed by many years of exhibitions, mainly in Sweden and France. The art critics where thrilled from the start and wrote in Stockholm Newspaper 1953 that Prytz ’worships the clean surface and purity of colour – and simplifies reality …with a decorative delight’.
Laila Prytz is well known for her purist paintings with patterns and stylized forms. Often in the shape of triangles and cubes with strong and clean colours. In 1969, the art critic Claude Bouyeure described her work as ’An art halfway between cubism and geometric abstraction, a surrealism whose magic comes from true and free naivism’.
In 1937 Laila Prytz designed her iconic swan stamp for the Swedish Post Office, which was later issued in May 1942. It became Sweden’s longest lasting stamp and was also voted the most beautiful Swedish stamp. One of the admirers was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who kept it as a dear part of his collection and is still today one of the highest valued Swedish stamps.
The open and positive mind of Prytz combined with here extensive travels, gave her many friends over the world. One of these was the iconic opera singer Birgit Nilsson. Their friendship resulted in many portraits of Birgit, which today are kept in several museums and institutions, eg. National Museum of Sweden.