Gösta Adrian-Nilsson

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Gösta Adrian-Nilsson, 1960

Gösta Adrian-Nilsson (2 April 1884 in Lund - 29 Mars 1965 in Stockholm), usually referred to as GAN, was a Swedish artist and writer. He is regarded as a pioneer of the Swedish modernist art movement.[1]

Personal experiences[edit]

He was born in a farming family in Southern Sweden. He was debuted as an artist in 1907 from an Art exhibition in the University of Lund.

He then went to Technical Company School and then to Kristian Zahrtmann's School in Copenhagen.

He then travelled in the year 1913 to Berlin. There he came in contact with abstract art, futurism and cubism, something that had a major impact on his own art. Gösta Adrian-Nilsson became a pioneer for radical art in 1910 and 20th century Sweden.


GAN influenced members of the Halmstad Group (Halmstadgruppen). Through an old friend of GAN, the railway engineer Egon Östlund, he was reunited with his cousins Axel and Erik Olson and Waldemar Lorentzon. In the year 1928 he got to know Sven Jonson and Esaias Thorén, and in particular Thorén became a greater admirer of GAN. Especially his surrealistic phase influenced them, but also his motifs of seamen's life.

His later works approached romanticism, inspired by the landscape painter Marcus Larson. In addition to oil paintings, he also produced some watercolour works, and wrote poems, short stories and children's books.

The fact that GAN was gay was reflected in many of his works. For example, for periods he was fixated by sailors and adored masculine strength. Another favorite motif was sportsmen. At the same time, the homosexual eroticism was both illegal and a taboo and GAN was forced to live a double life.[1]

Gösta Adrian-Nilsson's tombstone in Lund

GAN is represented at the Nationalmuseum and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Gothenburg's Art Museum, Malmö Art Museum, Waldemarsudde and Kulturen in Lund. In the last mentioned museum GAN's works and those of Wiwen Nilsson constitute a permanent exhibition of modernistic art. His writings are preserved at the University Library of Lund.


GAN passed away in stockholm on 29 Mar. 1965 and he was buried at the cemetery of Norra kyrkogården in Lund.

Art work[edit]

Notable artwork
Year Title Media Notes
1908 Självporträtt (Self-portrait) oil painting [2]
1908 Youth with burning heart
1908 Ynglingen och döden (Young man with death)
1911-1912 Ilja (Portrait of Karl Edvard Holmström)
1913 Tusch
1914 Figur med hjärta
1915 Jack
1916-1917 Fantasi (Fantasy)
1917 Figurkomposition med matroser
1917 Roddexercis
1923 Akrobater (Acrobats)
1923 Bains
1924 Akrobater i Paris (Acrobats in Paris)
1926 Tjur och Matador III (Bull and Matador III)
1927 Döende matador oil painting
1928 Inspiration
1929 Skuggspel, Vårljusskymning (Shadows, twilight)
1934 Ensam vandrare
1949 Någon är död


  1. ^ a b Martin Loeb (2002). Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History. Routledge. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0415159830.
  2. ^ "The art of Gösta Adrian-Nilsson, 1884–1965". { feuilleton }. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2019-10-08.