past exhibitions

Thorarin Snowfield

May 25 - July 20, 2003

The North Dakota Museum of Art organized a retrospective of the paintings of the late North Dakotan artist Thorarin Snowfield. His parents immigrated from Iceland to Manitoba, Canada, and then settled in the Icelandic community of Mountain, North Dakota, where Thorarin was born in 1897. They later bought a farm near Hannah, North Dakota. Mr. Snowfield was one of five children, including three brothers who all became attorneys at law and a sister. While unrecognized except locally, Snowfield is the only known painter of early Icelandic life in North Dakota.

After studying in New York and Minneapolis, Mr. Snowfield moved to Cavalier, North Dakota to live in a small house adjacent to his brother Fred. In 1958 he moved to nearby Langdon, built his own tiny house, and made a life as a painter of the landscape and people of the region. Mr. Snowfield’s art reflects the style of landscape painting during the first decades of the 20th century in the United States.

Placing little value on commercial goods, Mr. Snowfield remained poor, making his own brushes, mixing his own paints. His paintings were collected by family members and neighbors, or traded for goods and services. Local physicians, the mail carrier, the owner of the dry goods store, all came to own his work. No secondary market existed for his work, thus the exhibition was collected from those original owners. The artist died in 1981.