Anders Zorn Documentary Project


“Girls from Dalarna Having a Bath” oil on canvas, 1906. A few of the women that Zorn “hosted” and painted at his lakeside retreat.

Here’s a break from the usual nonprofit, fundraising, and volunteer board posts.

Recently, I started preliminary work on a documentary being produced by producer/director Joshua Hassel and Colorado Public Television/CPT12. Joshua has produced multiple artistic profiles and documentaries over the years and he’s fun to work with.

I’ve written before about how to get a generic project or idea off the ground, but I thought I’d share a little bit more about the beginning stages of this project. It has all the elements of a great experience.

Joshua called me earlier this summer to chat and asked if I was interested in helping raise the money for another documentary. During the Sandzén documentary (Sandzén: Ecstasy of Color, 2010) we’d talked about possibly doing a project about Anders Zorn, a Swedish artist from the late 19th, early 20th centuries. The connection is that when Birger Sandzén was a student in Stockholm he studied under Zorn. Plus, we wanted to visit Sweden again: we had an awesome experience.

Zorn is widely recognized as the most renowned Swedish artist. He’s also renowned as having been a flamboyant playboy. In addition to his portraits and landscapes, he’s perhaps best known for his nudes (contributes to his reputation). When I did the Google search I mention below, a multitude of nude paintings and drawings came up. More about that later.

“Of course I’m interested.” Especially since I get to return to Sweden to help Joshua and the film crew gather footage, conduct interviews, and do some research.

Here’s a list of what I’ve done so far:

  • I emailed the film crew that we used for the Sandzén documentary and gave them a heads up that we might need their help this fall. Maria and Malin were and are fantastic. We had so much fun (and I learned so much) when we traveled together in 2010. It’ll be a treat to get to work with them again.
  • I emailed someone I met during the Sandzén documentary. A major figure in art history, I asked if he knew any collectors or collections of Zorn’s work. Interestingly, Joshua already knew about the only person he could come up with.
  • Quick google search of topic (general and images). In this case I looked up Anders Zorn. I found a slew of sites and reviewed every one of the top 20 hits. Found the Zorn museum site, and spent a lot of time looking in every nook and cranny. I’ve put a lot of the content and/or links into Evernote, one of the tools I use to organize information. The best link (with a few videos) is:
  • Pinterest. I created my own Board and searched for Zorn images. There were already quite a few. You can check it out here.
  • Twitter account: I added @SwedishZorn to Twitter. Not using it yet because there’s so little online content about Zorn. I hope to change that.
  • Working to draft a content and fundraising plan.
  • Pouring over the donor and prospect lists from the Sandzén doc for people who might be interested in the Zorn project. Once I have the messaging and planning done, I’ll start engaging with them.
  • Trying to take notes every day and pay attention online to Zorn mentions, Tweets, photos, and posts.


It’s been a little quiet this week, although a few emails have been exchanged with the film crew in Sweden. The tentative date of our trip is October 3-7. I’ll probably add a few days on either end of the trip to visit one or more of our exchange students and maybe attend the Raindance Film Festival in London. One of my newest friends, Steve Balderson, will be there for a screening of his new movie. I’m also exploring a potential “open door” for a trip to Latvia for some preliminary work on another documentary project.

Do you have any ideas or thoughts? Have you ever heard of Anders Zorn? Seen any of this work? Would you like to know more?