When the Icelander Sigurdur Gudmundsson settled in the Netherlands in 1970, he concentrated primarily on ‘staged photography’, pictures in which he himself played a role, often in absurd situations with a sense of ironic melancholy. The museum has a number of works of this kind in its collection. Het grote gedicht (1981) marks Gudmundsson’s transition from photography to sculpture. Three concrete pyramidal forms stand on a sheet-iron base, each of them with a swan’s head protruding from it – as though the swans are about to escape from the pyramids, the symbol of rational thinking. Poetic inspiration and a sense of romanticism are features of Gudmundsson’s entire oeuvre, which has set him apart from his fellow artists, from his Fluxus period in the 1960s to the present day. The artist’s homeland, with the Icelandic landscape and the atmosphere of fairytales and legends, plays an important role in his work. ‘I am fascinated by the transformation of emotion into substance,’ he says. ‘A good work of art is a fingerprint of the soul.’


Translated title

The Great Poem



Production date



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concrete, sheet iron, stuffed swans

Object number

BA 3767