Silent Beauty is a continuation of the exhibition Japanomania in the Nordic Countries 1875–1918, which was seen at the Ateneum in spring 2016. The popular exhibition prompted an examination of how the phenomenon continued in the 20th century, and what new forms it took. The exhibition specifically explores the two-way interaction between the cultures: East Asian art was also influenced by the Nordic aesthetic. Nordic artists, designers and architects took influences from China and Korea, as well as Japan.
The works display a simplified aesthetic: geometric shapes, sophisticated colours, and an appreciation of materials link the pieces exhibited. The exhibition will include some 250 works, of which approximately one third are from the Ateneum collection. The artists featured in the exhibition include Aulis and Heidi Blomstedt, Rune Jansson, Aimo Kanerva, Carl Kylberg, Maija and Ahti Lavonen, Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, Kyllikki Salmenhaara, Key Sato, Helene Schjerfbeck, Jaakko Sievänen and Zao Wou-Ki.
The exhibition presents a large number of works from Japan, including from the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo and the Museum of Modern Art, Hayama. Works are on loan from, for example, the Design Museum in Helsinki, the Gothenburg Museum of Art and the Moderna Museet in in Sweden, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.
The exhibition is curated by the curator Anne-Maria Pennonen and the chief curator Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff. The exhibition coincides with the release of a publication, in Finnish, Swedish and English, produced by the Ateneum.