State of NovelArt.org
Lars was born 20 June 1946 in Helsingborg, Sweden. He is a Swedish artist of Latvian descent and earned his Ph.D. in art history from Lund University in 1987 and worked at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts from 1988 to 1993. From 1997 to 2003 he was a professor in art theory at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts. As an art theorist, Vilks is a proponent of the institutional theory of art.
Vilks became known in 1980 as the creator of the wooden sculptures Nimis and Arx, which are now located in the Kullaberg nature reserve in Höganäs Municipality, Skåne. In 1996, the small area where the sculptures are located was proclaimed by Vilks as an independent country named Ladonia. Nimis was sold to Joseph Beuys as a means to circumvent the Swedish building code laws concerning unlawful building process. The sculpture of Nimis is now owned by concept artist Christo, the legal document documenting the sale is on display at the Swedish Museum of Sketches. The document consists of a piece of drift wood formerly a part of the sculpture.
In 2007, Vilks was embroiled in an international controversy after he made a series of drawings depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog. The drawings were initially intended to be shown at a local art exhibition in the small town of Tällerud in Värmland, Sweden, in July 2007, but were removed from the exhibition by the organizers, citing security concerns and fear of violence from Islamists, shortly before its opening. Following the first refusal, Vilks submitted the drawings to several other art galleries in Sweden, including the distinguished Gerlesborg School of Fine Art in Bohuslän where Vilks is a frequent lecturer, but all declined to show the drawings for the same reason.
The controversy gained international attention after the Örebro-based regional newspaper Nerikes Allehanda published one of the drawings on 18 August to illustrate an editorial on self-censorship and freedom of religion. While several other leading Swedish newspapers had published the drawings at this time, this publication led to protests from Muslim organizations in Sweden as well as condemnations from several foreign governments including Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Jordan, as well as by the inter-governmental Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which also called for the Swedish government to take "punitive actions" against Vilks. Following this controversy, Vilks has been forced to live under police protection after having received several death threats, including a statement by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq which has offered up to $150,000 for his assassination.
www.vilks.net (in swedish only)
Image: Lars the builder, standing on the second floor (that later become five) of a wooden tower-construction (sculpture) "8 senses" that was erected 2003 in Uddevalla, Sweden.