Odd Nerdrum (born 8 April 1944) is a Norwegian figurative painter, born in Sweden, and considered to be one of the greatest living classical figurative painters. His work is held by museums worldwide. Themes and style in Nerdrum's work reference anecdote and narrative. Primary influences by the painters Rembrandt and Caravaggio help place his work in direct conflict with the abstraction and conceptual art considered acceptable in much of Norway. Nerdrum creates six to eight paintings a year. They include still life paintings of small, everyday objects (like bricks), portraits and self-portraits, and large paintings allegorical and apocalyptic in nature. The figures in Nerdrum's paintings are often dressed as if from another time and place.
Nerdrum was born in Helsingborg, Sweden, because his parents were resistance fighters who had fled German-occupied Norway during World War II. At the end of the war Nerdrum returned to Norway with his parents. By 1950 Nerdrum's parents had divorced leaving the mother to raise Nerdrum and his younger brother. In 1993, Nerdrum discovered his father was not his biological father; his mother had had a relationship with the architect David Sanfed. Nerdrum was born from this liaison. Nerdrum was educated in a Rudolf Steiner school and later at the Art Academy of Oslo. Disillusioned with the art form taught at the academy and with modern art in general Nerdrum began to teach himself to paint in a post modern style with Rembrandt and Caravaggio as influences. In 1965, he began a several-months study with the German artist Joseph Beuys.
Nerdrum says that his art should be understood as kitsch rather than art as such. On Kitsch, a manifesto composed by Nerdrum, describes the distinction he makes between kitsch and art. Nerdrum's philosophy has spawned The Kitsch Movement among his students and followers, who call themselves kitsch painters rather than artists.