It was raining heavily and the rain turning into sleet when I arrived at Glúfrasteinn, the home of the late Halldór Laxness and his family, recently turned into a museum.
I pushed the doorbell and a got a warm welcome from the guide. It was a strange feeling to walk into this world I had heard so much about and which is woven thoroughly into the history of Iceland’s culture during the last century. The walls were covered with art by some of the greatest Icelandic artists of Halldór’s generation.
Drawing Moustaches on Works of Art
The first item that caught my attention was a painting by Kjarval. I could see that someone had tried to paint a moustache on the male figure. The sound guide on the Walkman explained that it was Kjarval himself who wanted to make this addition to the painting when he was visiting Halldór. The thing that impressed me the most was its surroundings, how it merges with the ambience of the home. There are so many windows and through each of them, the unique nature of Iceland is on display in all its glory. It is as if the windows are frames around an ever-changing work of art.
Hearing the River Sing
In Auður’s bedroom one can hear the clear blue river sing its songs and the strong smell of books is everywhere. It is a house of books, faith, creativity and hospitality.
The life of Halldór was unique to our history and culture. Like many good artists he was eccentric and did things his way. For example, he would always write by hand, standing at his high desk, his wife sitting next to him typing everything he wrote. The home is full of interesting things for the eye, relics, interior design, furniture, books or art that used to be very exotic and bold for our fellow islanders at the time.
If you go, you have to give yourself time to walk down to the river and explore the surrounding nature of Gljúfrasteinn. And when you leave make sure to give yourself time to read at least one of Halldór Laxness many brilliant books, for example Independent People, a book that has influenced generations of artists on the island.
The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays 10.00-17.00.
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