Odds and quads

This sculpture of a kangaroo, located incongruously near the entrance of the library at Stockholm University, is the work of Torsten Renqvist (1924-2007).

March 24, 2011

Trained at the Slade School of Art in London as well as in Copenhagen and Stockholm, Renqvist was celebrated for his mastery of a range of media. He was equally adept as a painter, sculptor, politically engaged printmaker and teacher.

He often sought inspiration in the harsh landscapes of northern Sweden and, openly critical of abstraction, found early fame in the 1950s for his Expressionist paintings in dramatically contrasting colours.

In 1967, however, he changed tack, abandoning painting and drawing and turning to wood and metal sculptures in a deliberately crude and sometimes semi-abstract style.

Along with a number of public commissions across Sweden, he produced four sculptures for Stockholm University, of which this bronze kangaroo is the best known and loved.

It has been dressed up in a variety of guises including a Catholic cardinal, an Easter Bunny, a laurel-crowned Roman, a sunbather and Father Christmas.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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