Siri Berg – A Life in Color

Since the 1960s, Siri Berg (born in Stockholm in 1921) has worked with a geometric abstraction, one both strictly reduced and rich in variation and the visually unexpected. Berg has been a resident of New York City since 1939 and it was also here she was first recognized at the time when minimalism was making its breakthrough in the art world. In the exhibition A Life In Color, we provide an opportunity to see a concentrated presentation of her abstract painting.

Siri Berg has a strong interest in color theory, a subject she taught for many years at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Color is extremely relative and relational, as colors appear different according to any other adjacent colors. “…just as the knowledge of acoustics does not make one musical… so no color system by itself can develop one’s sensitivity for color,” stated artist and professor Joseph Albers, who Siri Berg met. In this same vein, Siri Berg empirically investigates the way in which colors are experienced.

Her earlier work at times referenced symbols of balance and harmony – such as yin and yang or the rondeau, a principle in musical composition. On the contrary, her later work contains no such references, as clearly denoted by titles including “It’s All About Color”. In two large-scale works bearing this title, Siri Berg experimented with just how few hues she could utilize to achieve a spectrum with a color gradation. The result was two series of nine monochrome canvases – one cold, with a scale ranging from light yellow-green to dark blue, and one warm, ranging from yellow-orange to deeper, darker red tones.

Berg’s work is included in collections at both the Guggenheim Museum (NYC) and Moderna Museet (Stockholm).

Photo: Glynne Betts