Dance: Timeless artwork at Perlan

On top of Reykjavík’s highest hill, four lively figures dance to the wind and singing birds. This notable work of art brings smiles to the faces of most all passer-by. Many of them come to visit the nature exhibitions at Perlan, but find that the experience begins with this intriguing artwork.

Dancing since 1970

Four bronze statues, about two meters tall, make up the artwork Dance outside Perlan. The artist, Þorbjörg Pálsdóttir (1919-2009), created Dance in 1970 and gifted it to Reykjavík city in 1995. It has a raw complexion and is timeless in its simplicity, appealing to people of all ages and origin. For many, Dance represents the connection between companions or a feel-good get-together where there is music and fun. It is up to the viewer to decide if the figures are dancing, playing instruments, or whatnot.

Dance is quite typical for Þorbjörg’s work. She generally presented simple figures in various postures, alone or in small groups. The figures are unusually tall, though they do not seem that way when viewed from afar. The heads and bodies of the statues in Dance are hollow, requiring only enough substance to make the figures stand up straight.

Meet the Artist

Þorbjörg Pálsdóttir is the artist behind Dance and many more impressive artworks. Þorbjörg began her studies in Iceland. She graduated from The Icelandic College of Art and Crafts in 1941 and later studied under the supervision of two well-known sculptors. In her twenties, she moved to Sweden to study at Konstfack and Berggrens Målarskola.

Þorbjörg lead an impressive career and in 1972, she helped co-found the Icelandic Sculptors’ Society. She traveled domestically and abroad to participate in group exhibitions, but also set up a few solo exhibitions. Þorbjörg’s work was regularly on display at outdoor exhibitions in Skólavörðuholt which is also where she revealed Dance for the first time, in 1970. Before it got its home at Perlan, the four figures were cast in bronze.

Explore artwork in Reykjavík on your smartphone

The Reykjavík Art Museum recently introduced a new app called Reykjavík Art Walk. It allows anyone to explore all the artwork that the museum attends to in the city; about two hundred pieces. The app offers new ways to enjoy art. Users can access information, images, audio guides, and art-related games to get to know the artwork and artists. The app can also guide users to nearby public art locations.

The Reykjavík Art Walk app is free to download for Android and iOS.

Photographer: Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson