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Carl Nesjar (1920–2015)

Margalit Fox reports in the New York Times that the Norwegian sculptor, painter, and printmaker Carl Nesjar—who worked for nearly two decades as Picasso’s fabricator—has died. The two men began working together in the late 1950s and completed more than thirty sculptures together until Picasso’s death in 1973. One of the sculptures executed from their partnership is Jacqueline, a statue of Picasso’s wife which overlooks a lake in Kristinehamn, Sweden. Other sculptures they made are installed in Norway, France, Spain, and Israel as well as on the campuses of Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

One sculpture fabricated by Nesjar in sandblasted concrete and featuring a technique of etched lines that he dubbed Betograve, Bust of Sylvette, was installed in the courtyard of New York University’s apartment complex Silver Towers in 1967. The work, along with the towers designed by the architect I. M. Pei, was declared a New York City landmark in 2008. Also among his collaborations with Picasso is a set of sandblasted murals that were installed on the facades of government buildings in Oslo. Some of these works, such as Fiskerne (The Fishermen) and Måken (The Seagull) were heavily damaged in the 2011 bombing in Oslo of those buildings by Anders Behring Breivik and their future still remains uncertain.

Nesjar was born Carl Carlsen in Larvik, Norway in 1920 and adopted the name “Nesjar,” the Norse name for the coastal area around Larvik, early in his career. Brought up in Norway and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Nesjar studied art at the Pratt Institute, Columbia University, as well as in Oslo and Paris. His own work includes a series called “Ice Fountains”—sculptures formed from cascading ice that have been installed throughout the world.