Swedish artist's work on parade

The Big Easy is celebrating 300 years of diversity in culture, jazz, history and festivals this year while also recognizing the Swede who brought fantasy to the carnival. 

  • Wikström lived above his ground-floor studio in this house in the French Quarter. He was well-liked and played the piano and sang with friends. They even sent him back to Sweden to study mythology because they wanted Vikings and Nordic goddesses to put their mark on Mardi Gras.
  • Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans may be even more festive than usual this year as the city celebrates its 300th birthday. It’s thus an appropriate time to be celebrating a highly regarded Swede’s influence in the city as well: Artist Bror Anders Wikstrom made a name for himself as a prominent artist who took charge of creating the floats and decorations during the early decades of Carnival.
    Born in Sweden in 1854, Wikstrom came to New Orleans in 1883, and it wasn’t long before he was elevating the extravaganza of Mardi Gras through his fantastical designs for early krewes; he served as the chief designer behind 20 floats and hundreds of costumes. He also founded the New Orleans Artists Association in 1885, one of the civic groups that sparked the Delgado Museum of Art (NOMA) in 1910, and was a popular landscape and marine painter and sculptor.

  • Carnival costume by Wikstrom with an obvious Nordic touch.
  • An exhibit of Wikstrom’s work, The Artistry of Carnival | Bror Anders Wikstrom: Bringing Fantasy to Carnival, is on view now through April 1. For more info, see New Orleans Museum of Art, www.noma.org/exhibitions or call 504.658.4100.

  • Float #10 in Rex Parade, 1902, Louisiana Image Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University
  • New Orleans is celebrating its tricentennial this year. For the past 300 years, this U.S. port city has received people from around the world seeking new lives and prospects. It’s not surprising that the city is recognizing and celebrating its diverse heritage in its unique culture, jazz, history and festivals with many special events throughout the year. For more info, see www.2018nola.com