Inspiration – Contemporary Art & Classics

Yinka Shonibare CBE: Medusa West, detail (2015). © Yinka Shonibare CBE. Courtesy of James Cohan, New York.

How have international contemporary artists been inspired by the classics of European art? And why is it these works, in particular, that have become known around the world? Inspiration presents art that draws inspiration from iconic masterpieces, created by today’s most interesting artists. These include Marina Abramović, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Nancy Fouts, Mark Karasick, Ola Kolehmainen, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Sara Masüger and Yinka Shonibare CBE.

LOCATION: THIRD FLOOR

The history of Western art includes a great number of works that have become famous throughout the world. The subjects of many of these works involve classical mythology, biblical stories, or notable people and events. This exhibition is a contemporary take on iconic works and stories from art history. Famous paintings and sculptures have served as inspiration for contemporary artists whose viewpoints range from veneration of old masters to critical contemplation of power structures.

Works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt and other masters continue to inspire contemporary artists to this day. The artists featured in the exhibition include Marina Abramović, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Mat Collishaw, Nancy Fouts, Mark Karasick, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, Heikki Marila, Sara Masüger, Jarmo Mäkilä, Aurora Reinhard, Jenny Saville, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Gavin Turk and Koen Vanmechelen.

The photographic artist Ola Kolehmainen’s new series of works, MVSEVM, which he photographed for this exhibition at key museums in Europe, adds the presence of museums to the display. The exhibition also features works from the collection of replicas at the Finnish National Gallery, which includes replicas of works by European masters, created, for example, by Adolf von Becker, Magnus Enckell, Helene Schjerfbeck and Venny Soldan-Brofeldt.

This exhibition was originally on show at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in spring 2020, and its main curators are Susanna Pettersson and James Putnam. At the Ateneum Art Museum, the exhibition is curated by the museum director, Marja Sakari, and the chief curator, Sointu Fritze.

All contemporary artists of the exhibition:

Marina Abramović, Georg Baselitz, Paul Benney, Pato Bosich, Glenn Brown, Rob & Nick Carter, Mat Collishaw, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Freddy Fabris, Nancy Fouts, Susanne Gottberg, Stephane Graff, Henry Hudson, Tom Hunter, Mark Karasick, Rachel Kneebone, Ola Kolehmainen, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, Heikki Marila, Hynek Martinec, Sara Masüger, Alexander Mihaylovich, Jarmo Mäkilä, Cristiano Pintaldi, Marc Quinn, Recycle Group, Aurora Reinhard, Jenny Saville, Meekyoung Shin, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Kiki Smith, Gavin Turk, Koen Vanmechelen, Nicola Verlato and Hugo Wilson

GUIDED TOURS

Free guided tours will be held again from the beginning of August 2020.
Read more about free guided tours

Get more out of your exhibition visit by ordering a guided tour!
Read more about private tours

THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUE

An exhibition catalogue, edited by Susanna Pettersson in collaboration with Timo Huusko and Lene Wahlsten, reveals the background of the exhibition from a variety of angles and discusses why specific works have proved to be inexhaustible sources of inspiration. The publication is available in Finnish, Swedish and English. Read more at Museoshop.fi

VIDEOS

Museum director Marja Sakari introduces the exhibition.

Artists Mark Karasick, Ola Kolehmainen and Sara Masüger among others tell about their work. The videos are produced by Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.

EVENTS

See all events at the event calendar

Inspiration lecture series
Ateneum Hall. The lectures will be held in Finnish. Admission is included in the museum entrance fee, or with a Museum Card or a Friends of the Ateneum membership card.

Thu 27 Aug 2020 at 17:00 Aikakoneessa taiteen kanssa: inspiraatioketjuja antiikista nykypäivään. (’In a time machine of art: chains of inspiration from antiquity to the present day.’) Marja Sakari, PhD, director of the Ateneum Art Museum.

Thu 3 Sep 2020 at 17:00 Mona Lisa mehumyyjänä ja muita tapauksia. Ikonisten taideteosten käyttö mainos- ja viihdemaailmassa. (’Mona Lisa as a juice seller and other cases. The use of iconic works of art in the world of advertising and entertainment.’) Sointu Fritze, chief curator at the Ateneum Art Museum.

Sat 12 Sep 2020 at 14:00. Ikoniset teokset ja museoiden historia. (’Iconic works and the history of museums.’) Susanna Pettersson, PhD, director general at Nationalmuseum.

Press releases

Works by the world-famous artist Ilya Repin to be shown at the Ateneum in spring 2021

  An exhibition featuring work by the international master painter Ilya Repin (1844–1930) will be on display on the third floor of the Ateneum Art Museum from 19 March to 29 August 2021. Repin is Russia’s most famous painter and also loved by the…

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