Modern Women

Helene Schjerfbeck: Circus Girl (1916). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, Kaunisto Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

Helene Schjerfbeck, Elga Sesemann, Sigrid Schauman & Ellen Thesleff

27 August 2020–2 January 2021
Kunstforeningen GL STRAND, Copenhagen

The exhibition presents four early-20th-century Finnish artists from the Ateneum collection: Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946), Sigrid Schauman (1877–1979), Ellen Thesleff (1869–1954) and Elga Sesemann (1922–2007).

The exhibition highlights the pioneering role of these artists 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 delves into the role of the modern woman in the midst of the social, political and cultural changes of the era. Another topic being explored is the opportunity for women in Finland to build independent careers for themselves as artists. The exhibition topics are explored from two angles: women as creators of images, and women as objects in images. These topics are linked to the debate on women’s status and opportunities, which continues to be topical and globally important. The exhibition of approximately 50 works includes paintings and prints from the Ateneum collection.

Located in the centre of Copenhagen, GL STRAND is an exhibition space run by a local art association, which has been in operation since 1825, and it is the fifth venue to display The Modern Woman exhibition (the name varies by location) produced by the Ateneum. Before its opening in Copenhagen, the exhibition will have been seen by more than 260,000 people around the world:

  • Independent Visions, Scandinavia House, New York, 26 April–7 October 2017
  • The Modern Woman, Millesgården, Stockholm, Sweden 28 October–25 February 2018
  • The Modern Woman, Oulu Museum of Art, Oulu, Finland 15 April–2 September 2018
  • The Modern Woman, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 18 June–23 September 2019

The exhibition at GL STRAND in Copenhagen is curated by the keeper of prints and drawings at the Ateneum, Anu Utriainen. The exhibition is accompanied by the Ateneum publication Images of the Modern Woman, available in English and Swedish.

Read more about the exhibition on the GL STRAND website.

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