The Ateneum Art Museum’s new collection exhibition, Stories of Finnish Art, was opened on the second floor of the museum in March 2016. Next, the exhibition will be complemented with modern art from the post-war years, when the three halls on the first floor will be opened to the public on Tuesday 6 September 2016. The additions include works from the Ateneum collections from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The new collection exhibition has enjoyed great popularity: since the exhibition opening, the museum has been visited by almost 150,000 people.
The works in the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition, on display in the new halls, highlight the post-Second World War reconstruction period and the emergent media society. The exhibition will feature paintings, sculptures and prints by Finnish and foreign artists such as Anitra Lucander, Unto Pusa, Ulla Rantanen, Anita Snellman, Sam Vanni and Andy Warhol. Prints by foreign artists will be exhibited on a regularly changing basis: the first in the series is David Hockney. The exhibition will also include Eino Ruutsalo’s experimental films and advertisements.
“The post-Second World War art history reflects the change that had taken place in society. It also reflects the artists’ desire to find new ways of expression, even if this meant taking risks. Breaking the mould of convention was not easy, but it was necessary”, says the museum director Susanna Pettersson.
In Finland, the period from 1950 to 1970 was a time of people migrating from the countryside to the industrialising cities. The breakthrough of modernism meant a major transformation in art. The makers of concrete art focused on form and colour, while others explored the off-shoots of surrealism or painted the world as it appeared to them.
The importance of international art increased. In 1961, the Ateneum Art Museum organised the first ARS exhibition, which introduced Finland to Italian, French and Spanish informalism. The influence of informalism also showed in the work of many Finnish artists.
Newspapers, radio and television provided snapshots of political crises and wars, but they also covered underground culture, the hippie movement, and phenomena in pop culture. Art was used to make statements, and the artists’ media ranged from pop art to performance art, environmental art, and conceptual art.
The Stories of Finnish Art exhibition, in its full form, recounts the development of Finnish art from 1809 until the 1970s. The exhibition is a celebration of the Ateneum collections: it draws new parallels and highlights works that have not been shown for a long time. At the same time, the story of Finnish art is linked with international developments in art and with social events. The exhibition includes almost 400 works. The exhibition will be on display until 2020.
Read the press release of the whole Stories of Finnish Art exhibition (published 15 March 2016)