Siri Derkert (1888–1973), one of the few prominent female artists in Swedish art history, is known for her highly personal expressionist style and for her monumental public commissions, often of a political nature. Many of her works explore her ardent interest in women’s liberation as well as environmental issues, fields in which she was a forerunner and raised issues still relevant today. 

Siri Derkert's evolution from an elegant contemporary modernism in the 1910s to the pronounced political public art she became famous for in the 1960s, is a testament to the various ways an artist can relate to the private and the political.


At a time when Sweden did not have female suffrage and marriage meant that a woman was placed under her husband’s guardianship, Derkert’s work was further formed by the personal experience of being a single mother of three. The images from the private sphere of family and friends from the 20s and 30s are the result of an experience that in Derkert's world had an obvious political dimension: women’s rights. Feminism was not just about equal rights in professional and public life, but also about the single woman's right to care for and raise her own children – and her right to create a room for artistic work. Towards the end of the 1930s, Siri Derkert's life eventually enters a completely new phase. The political commitment in the form of feminism that had been obvious for a long time, is given a new dimension during the last years of the 1930s through the Spanish Civil War and Derkert’s meetings with refugees from Germany and becomes a concrete expression in response to the aggressive expansion of right wing-nationalism in Europe. During WWII Derkert's political involvement eventually adopts new forms through participation in adult education and organized political work. The circuit of motifs is now being expanded seriously outside family life and Siri Derkert's political portraits from the 40s, 50s and 60s are greatly stylized figures in an expressive manner.


Siri Derkert represented Sweden in the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1962 and had an extensive retrospective exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam the same year. Her works have been shown in two retrospectives at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1960 and 2011).


Her works can be found in many Swedish museums, among them Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Malmö Art Museum, Gothenburg Museum of Art, Skövde Art Museum and Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art, Lund, but also The British Museum, London.


Siri Derkert studied at Althins målarskola from 1904 and at Royal Academy of Fine Arts 1911–13. She also studied art at Académie Colarossi and Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.

Installation shots