The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
The Modern Woman will present seven Finnish artists: Maria Wiik (1853–1928), Sigrid af Forselles (1860–1935), Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946), Ellen Thesleff (1869–1954), Sigrid Schauman (1877–1979), Hilda Flodin (1877–1958) and Elga Sesemann (1922–2007). The exhibition of more than 80 works from the Ateneum collection will include paintings, sculptures, prints and sketchbooks.
Unlike its previous international versions, the exhibition to be staged in Japan will also include works by Maria Wiik, Sigrid af Forselles and Hilda Flodin. Maria Wiik and Helene Schjerfbeck were friends and fellow artists through life. The sculptors af Forselles and Flodin were Auguste Rodin’s pupils, and pioneers in sculpture in Finland and the Nordic countries. Sigrid af Forselles also acted as Rodin’s assistant when he was working on The Burghers of Calais.
The exhibition will delve into the role of the modern woman in the midst of the social, political and cultural changes of the era. The featured artists had a pioneering role in Finnish art at the end of the 19th century and in the early decades of the 20th century. The artists in the exhibition were exceptionally cosmopolitan, travelling alone without a male companion, which was not customary at the time. Each of the artists continued to work until the end of their lives.
The exhibition curators are the Chief Curator Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff and the Keeper of Prints and Drawings Anu Utriainen from the Ateneum Art Museum, and the Curator of Research and Future Planning Azu Kubota form the National Museum of Western Art. The exhibition will celebrate one hundred years of diplomatic relations between Finland and Japan. The Modern Woman has previously been shown at Scandinavia House in New York (2017), Millesgården in Stockholm (2017–2018), and the Oulu Museum of Art (2018).