Produced by the Ateneum Art Museum, which is part of the Finnish National Gallery, the exhibition The Modern Woman will be on display at Scandinavia House in New York, from 29 April to 3 October 2017. The exhibition will present 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 is part of the Finland 100 centenary year programme.
The exhibition will highlight 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. An all-female artist list makes the show particularly topical in the United States: the recent presidential election has stirred a debate about women’s status and opportunities today. 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 paint until the end of their lives.
“The exhibition delves into the role of the modern woman in the middle of the social, political and cultural changes of the era. We want to show that it has long been possible for women in Finland to build independent careers for themselves as artists”, says the Museum Director Susanna Pettersson.
In New York, the exhibition will be held at Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America under the title Independent Visions: Helene Schjerfbeck and her Contemporaries from the Collection of Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery. The exhibition topics will be explored from two angles: women as creators of images, and women as objects in images. The exhibition of 54 works will include paintings and prints from the Ateneum collection. The exhibition will be curated by the Museum Director Susanna Pettersson and the Curator Anu Utriainen.
Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America is the leading center for Nordic culture in the United States, offering a wide range of programs that illuminate the culture and vitality of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
After New York, the internationally touring exhibition will be seen at the Millesgården art museum in Stockholm, from October 2017 to February 2018. An even more comprehensive exhibition on the same theme will be shown at the Ateneum Art Museum in autumn 2018. The extensive exhibition to be on display at the Ateneum will also feature works by other female artists.
Exhibitions produced by the Ateneum to be shown in seven countries in 2017
In 2017, the Ateneum will produce the largest number of international touring exhibitions in the history of the museum. Tove Jansson’s exhibition was on show at the Millesgården art museum in Stockholm until 22 January 2017. Next, it will travel to Gothenburg, Copenhagen and London.
Displayed at the Ateneum in spring 2016, the exhibition Japanomania in the Nordic Countries 1875–1918 was next shown at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, and it is currently showing at the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, to close on 23 April 2017. Alice Neel – Painter of Modern Life, an exhibition that closed at the Ateneum in October 2016, is currently on display at the Gemeentemuseum den Haag in The Hague in the Netherlands, and will close on 12 February, to then continue to Arles in France and Hamburg in Germany.