GUNNAR RÚNAR ÓLAFSSON – RETROSPECTIVE
In the exhibition Gunnar Rúnar Ólafsson – Retrospective, manually developed photographs, from the period 1947-1964 are on display. Also, a selection from Ólafsson‘s movies from the National Film Archive of Iceland will be shown.
Gunnar Rúnar Ólafsson was born on 23 May 1917. Starting out as a self-taught amateur photographer, he took interesting photographs of street life and individuals in his home town of Hafnarfjörður.
For two years Gunnar ran a shop in Hafnarfjörður, before leaving Iceland for the USA, where he studied at the New York Institute of Photography, and then headed west to Los Angeles. At the Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios in Hollywood, Gunnar learned about film-making, and on his return to Iceland in 1946 he started making documentary films, initially for the Saga film company, and later on his own account.
In 1953 Gunnar joined the staff of daily Morgunblaðið as a press photographer, on an ad hoc basis alongside his film work. He left the newspaper in 1958, after which he undertook a wide range of photographic commissions, for instance industrial and advertising photography. He took photographs for municipalities such as Reykjavík, Hafnarfjörður and Akureyri, documented youth activities, and also undertook some photography of family occasions such as weddings and christenings.
Gunnar Rúnar was a modernist and progressive photographer in his time, with a keen interest in advances in the field. His photographic archive was one of the first acquired by the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, in 1981. It comprises about 27,000 images, almost all negatives.
Gunnar Rúnar Ólafsson died in 1965, aged only 47.