This is our time

Images from Post-war Sweden


The decades following the Second World War saw an unprecedented development towards the technology driven society of today. The exhibition This is our time – Images from Post-war Sweden depicts this transformational time, where Sweden during a few decades became one of the world’s most prosperous countries. The economic development was advantageous, and the standard of living rose quickly. The reformation was most profound in the capitol where the urbanization resulted in an acute lack of housing. Thanks to the so called “Million Program” (1965-1975), where one million new houses and apartments were to be built in ten years, the former overcrowded and rundown apartments in Stockholm’s downtown where substituted with satellite cities such as Vällingby and Farsta. The vision of the so called Swedish “Folkhemmet” (a political concept that played an important role in the history of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the welfare state), along with social reforms and a newfound optimism for the future made the demolition of the central parts of Stockholm possible. This was the largest reorganization of a city centre in Sweden’s history and arose vivid emotions. Simultaneously, there was a great fascination for the emerging Stockholm, and the erection of iconic buildings such as Kulturhuset (the House of Culture & City Theatre), Riksbankshuset (Sweden’s central bank) and Hötorgscity received accolades for their daring architecture.


The inauguration of Hötorgscity on April 12, 1959 assembled thousands of people. One of the photographers that immortalized the celebration was Rolf Wertheimer who in the image Invigning av Hötorgscity 1959 (The Inauguration of Hötorgscity 1959) captured the crowd from above. Wertheimer also photographed the construction of the buildings, for instance in the image Första Hötorgsskrapan nästan klar (First Hötorgs building almost done), where a construction worker balances on the rooftop while the lively traffic on Sveavägen is seen in the background.


The photographers in this exhibition not only depicted the demolition of parts of Stockholm’s downtown, but also the enthusiasm for the new modern society. The radical new architecture is apparent in Wertheimer’s photo Skärholmen 1963, where a boy is playing on the recently built escalator, Three Children by Jens S. Jensen, depicting the high-rise buildings at Hammarkullen from 1973 and the photo Sollentuna Kommun (Sollentuna municipality) by Lennart Durehed. During the post-war decades a documentary photographic tradition prevailed. Most of the photographers were men and not until the 1980s where female photographers such as Tuija Lindström an Monica Englund’s entered the photographic world, the male dominance was broken.


During the 1950s, the increasing prosperity and the expansion of the schooling system led to the emergence of a new middle class and teenage movement, and for the first time, the concept of teenager was adopted. Several of the photographers in this exhibition, such as Emil Heilborn, Rolf Wertheimer and Gunnar Smoliansky, were all born in the 1930s and were part of the movement that they portrayed.


Rolf Wertheimer studied art for Lennart Rodhe and Pierre Olofsson, and later for Ragnar Sandberg at the Royal Institute of Art 1951-57. During the 1950s and early 1960s, he resided in a simple and outdated apartment, also used as a studio, on Regeringsgatan 55. When the wave of demolition reached his neighbourhood, he moved to an apartment close to Brunkeberg Square and the park Kungsträdgården. The park became his office and the people who populated it his objects. The iconic images from that era were collected in the book 1960-talets Kungsan. For centuries, this lush garden has been a social hub in central Stockholm, and frequented by people from all kinds of society, which is obvious in the images Kungsan 1964 (Tavern St. Erik) and Lillan i Kungsan. The infected battle was portrayed by Wertheimer and can be seen in the picture Slaget om almarna (the battle of the elm trees).


The social commitment and the political heritage that permeated several of the photographers’ artistry is visible in Jean Hermanson’s photographs. Hermanson was raised in a family of moulders and continued to depict the working class during his entire career. His objective to document the people behind the growing Swedish welfare society made him one of Sweden’s foremost workplace describers. The rendering of the harsh factory life is seen in the photo Gjuteriarbetare Tullinge, Pump Separator.


Photographs tend to be regarded through a nostalgic shimmer, as they allot feelings of recognition and fellowship. Through the eyes of today, it’s easy to be rapt by the ambition and idealism that developed during the post-war years. However, the society was also characterized by hard work, which lay the foundation of the welfare society that we enjoy today. “This is our time” is as current today as it was back then.

This exhibition is only shown online. Should you wish to view any of the photographs in person, please feel free to contact us and we'd be happy to present them during a private viewing in our gallery.


    Denna utställning visas endast online. Skulle ni vilja se några av fotona i verkligheten är Du välkommen att kontakta oss direkt.
    Denna utställning visas endast online. Skulle ni vilja se några av fotona i verkligheten är Du välkommen att kontakta oss direkt.