Axel Fridell Biography

Axel Fridell




Axel Fridell was born in Falun, Sweden on November 6, 1894. He was the son of the furniture maker Per Johan Fridell. As a young man, like most, he worked in the Falun copper mine. While at the mine he began studying art at evening school, and had as co-fellow students, among others, Hans Norsbo and Bertil Bull Hedlund.


In 1909 he decided to try and work as an artist on his own. Early on he received support from Anshelm Schultzberg and Gustaf Ankarcrona. Fridell was a great admirer of Ankarcrona and visited him several times. In 1913 Fridell moved to Stockholm, where he studied at Carl Wilhelmson’s atelier. On the advice of Schultzberg he enrolled at the Royal Swedish Academy of Art where Axel Tallberg came to be his teacher in printmaking, and inspired Fridell himself to start working in the graphic media.


During his first year in Stockholm he lived with Helge Zandén, and in 1914, he resumed his contact with Bertil Bull Hedlund and David Tägtström, who studied in Paris but had been forced home after World War I broke out. With Bertil Bull Hedlund, he began to neglect his studies while sampling the nightlife in Stockholm on Novilla, Bern and Hamburger Börs. As a result, Hedlund and Fridell were kicked out of the Royal Institute of Fine Art in 1916. However, through his contacts with Axel Tallberg, he had the opportunity to continue printing his work at the art school.

Fridell had his first exhibition in December of 1914, together with Bertil Bull Hedlund, in a bookshop in Falun. In the spring of 1915 an exhibition was held at the library in Stockholm with works by Hilding Linnqvist, Axel Nilsson and David Tägtström. In 1917 he showed together with Ruben Nordström in a room in the Birger Jarl Passage, where his work was noted by Swedish art critic August Brunius. This meant that the interest in Fridell's graphics increased, especially his drypoints.


In 1918 he participated with Tägtström and Eric Detthow in an exhibition at the Academy. In the following years, his productivity decreased as the nightlife took more of his time. In 1921, Fridell traveled to Italy, especially Florence, San Gimignano and Venice. After returning to Sweden, Fridell settled again in Falun. In 1923, however, he traveled abroad and settled in Paris, where he stayed until 1925. After returning to Sweden, he resumed residence again in Stockholm. That same year he got to know print collector / curator Thorsten Laurin, who began influencing Fridell by interesting him in British printmaking.

The last trip he made was to London 1933 where he retraced many of Whistler’s haunts and Paris in 1934. Axel Friddell died in Stockholm at age 40 on May 26, 1935 as a result of lung cancer.