Ystad Art Museum was inaugurated in connection with the major Leisure Exhibition in 1936. It became the town’s largest cultural centre and housed at that time not only art, but also a dragoon museum, weapon collection, library and tourist office. Today, the building is home for a museum of art whose activities attract both regional and international attention. The tourist office is also still there.
Over the building’s main entrance hangs Åke Jönsson’s bronze relief in a harmonic interplay with the facade’s Nordic classicism. Perhaps the artist took inspiration from depictions of chariots in art history, but instead of weapons he filled it with music, literature and other fine arts. Ystad Art Museum, like so much else in the town’s cultural life, came into being due to voluntary efforts. Ystad Art Association still plays a role in the art museum’s activities. At the time of the building’s inauguration, the then newly formed association already had plans for ornamenting the facade, but due to a lack of funds the plans were delayed until the late 1950s. Åke Jönsson was then assigned to present a proposal for the facade relief, which was unveiled in 1960.
Åke Jönsson grew up in simple conditions in a farming environment in Osby, in north-east Skåne. In 1941, his great interest in art took him to the School of Applied Arts in Stockholm, the forerunner of Konstfack – the University of Arts, Crafts and Design. He began to focus on sculpture at an early stage. Between 1953 and 1961, he was a teacher at Valand in Gothenburg. His work can be seen at places such as the Gothenburg Museum of Art, Nationalmuseum and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.
Another of his works – Fölet (The Foal) – can be seen in Ystad, on Stora Östergatan.