The Ateneum’s winter season 2019–2020 to focus on Helene Schjerfbeck’s travels and Finnish artists in Ruovesi


The Ateneum’s winter exhibition programme 2019–2020 is changing. The exhibitions to be staged on the third floor of Ateneum from 15 November 2019 to 26 January 2020 are Through My Travels I Found Myself – Helene Schjerfbeck and Finnish Artists in Ruovesi. The common theme in these exhibitions is the importance of place in an artist’s work. Contrary to a previous announcement, the exhibition Iconic Works is to move to year 2020. The exact dates for Iconic Works will be announced later.

Through My Travels I Found Myself – Helene Schjerfbeck

15 November 2019–26 January 2020

An exhibition of works by Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) is to be presented at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from 20 July to 27 October 2019. The exhibition is the first comprehensive overview of Schjerfbeck’s work in the UK. After London, the exhibition will move to the Ateneum as part of a more extensive display, curated by chief curator Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff.

Through My Travels I Found Myself describes how Helene became Helene. The exhibition focuses specifically on Schjerfbeck’s trips to Pont-Aven in northern France, Fiesole in Italy, and St Ives in England at the end of the 19th century. For example, Schjerfbeck painted one of her best-known works, The Convalescent (1888), in St Ives. What was the significance of the artist’s travels to her work – and how was she inspired by what she saw? The exhibits also include works that have not previously been seen in Finland.

Helene Schjerfbeck was inspired in particular by foreign art. Her idols included, for example, El Greco (1541–1614), Paul Cézanne (1839–1903) and Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). Schjerfbeck’s work was also influenced by the world of fashion magazines of the 1920s.

From 3 December 2019 to 17 January 2020, 16 performances of a play about Helene Schjerfbeck, entitled Minä maalaan teidät kaikki (‘I will paint all of you’), will be staged in one of the galleries for the Schjerfbeck exhibition. The play is written by Iida Hämeen-Anttila, directed by Kati Outinen, and the roles are played by Kati Outinen and Annatuuli Saine. The play premiered on 23 February 2019 at Teatteri Jurkka, and the first run of performances played to full houses. Tickets are available for sale from the Ateneum webshop from 19 March 2019. The language of the play is Finnish.

Helene Schjerfbeck: Cypresses, Fiesole (1894). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Helene Schjerfbeck: Cypresses, Fiesole (1894). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Finnish Artists in Ruovesi

15 November 2019–26 January 2020

Ruovesi and its surroundings in Pirkanmaa have attracted artists since the 1820s. All the artists who have operated in the region are linked by an interest in the spirit of the place, its nature, people and culture. How has this influenced the art of those who have worked in Ruovesi? The exhibition is curated by the keeper of prints and drawings at the Ateneum, Anu Utriainen.

The first visual artist to make trips around Ruovesi was Werner Holmberg (1830–1860), whose works depicted local nature, landscapes and scenes of rustic life. In the mid-1890s, Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931), who fell in love with the landscapes in Ruovesi, built his Kalela ‘wilderness studio’ there, which is where he created his iconic Kalevala-themed works.

Kalela was visited, among others, by Hugo Simberg (1873–1917), whose work features devil figures, death and natural mysticism, which were inspired by the rustic culture of the region surrounding Kalela. Ellen Thesleff (1869–1954) also had a studio villa of her own design built in Murole in Ruovesi. Throughout her life, Thesleff explored the landscapes and moods of Murole in her art.

The other artists featured in the exhibition include Lauri AnttilaGabriel EngbergKalle LöytänäElga Sesemann and Louis Sparre, who have all lived or worked in Ruovesi. The exhibited works date from the 1850s to the 1980s.

Louis Sparre: First Snow (1891). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, Antell Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Matti Janas.

Louis Sparre: First Snow (1891). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, Antell Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Matti Janas.

Hugo Simberg: Kevätilta jäänlähdön aikaan, 1897. Kansallisgalleria / Ateneumin taidemuseo. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria / Pirje Mykkänen

Hugo Simberg: Spring Evening When the Ice is Melting, 1897. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Updated 14 November 2019

First picture:
Helene Schjerfbeck: Clothes Drying (1883). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.