The Ateneum Research Library. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

Editorial: Researching the Finnish National Gallery’s Collections

11 March 2022

 

 

Riitta Ojanperä, PhD, Director of Collections Management, Finnish National Gallery

The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, one of the Finnish National Gallery’s three museums, closed its doors for more than a year in order to carry out renovation work to the building. During this period the museum staff were busy focusing on curating an extensive exhibition of international contemporary art ‘ARS22 – Living encounters’, which opens in April.

This exceptional period offered Kiasma a rare opportunity to concentrate on its collections. One result is the publication of a richly illustrated book, The Many Forms of Contemporary Art, which celebrates 30 years of collecting contemporary art. The current issue of FNG Research magazine publishes online two articles from the book, as well as an interview with the curators responsible for the book project. From a research point of view there was a specific chance for the curators to follow their own research interests and to avoid using the standard ways of looking at the collection, instead roaming freely through it.

Since 2017 the Finnish National Gallery has run a research intern programme to foster collaboration between the museum professionals and academic studies in art history. Interns have been recruited to work for three months on a selected part of our collections, honing their skills in researching chosen topics by studying material collection objects, such as specific artists’ archives. In this way we wish to support future museum professionals’ practical enthusiasm for actual physical objects in the collections in their many formats. This programme has proved to be successful both for graduate-level students and the museum’s professionals practising research.

Our research intern for the autumn period in 2021, Ida Pakarinen, chose to look at the collections from the viewpoint of current climate change. Through the artists’ works she chose to examine, her article, ‘Recycled Utopia – Where Art and Everyday Life Coalesce’, touches upon important questions concerning a museum’s collections management in the form of contextualising collections objects with metadata. Focusing on recycled materials and their status in artworks and artists’ working processes, she came to discuss certain key words or concepts, such as ‘trash’, ‘waste’ or ‘junk’, as part of the contextualisation of collection objects. Her approach makes visible how, for example, vocabularies used in cataloguing museum collections are entangled with transforming meanings and values.

An important international research project that FNG Research is currently following is entitled ‘Gothic Modern: from Medieval and Northern Renaissance to Dark, Emotive, Uncanny Modern Art’. The project schedule stretches from 2018 to 2025 and explores the pivotal importance of Gothic art for the artistic modernisms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this issue, we follow the international partners group meeting and encounter modern Gothic throwbacks in Finnish cultural history.

Featured image: The Ateneum Research Library
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

Read more — Download FNG Research No. 1/2022 as a PDF

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Nina Roos, Lost in Yellow, 2000, oil on polycarbonate sheet, metal stand, 90cm x 175cm x 241cm (each sheet), installed in the lobby at Kiasma Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Petri Virtanen

Celebrating Three Decades of Collecting Contemporary Art

 Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

When a national collection marks a milestone in its history, it offers a chance to get a glimpse of the changes that have contributed to its evolution. Gill Crabbe asks three curators from the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma / Finnish National Gallery about the process of preparing a new book that opens the doors to the past 30 years of the museum’s acquisitions

In our digital age when e-books and online webzines are the order of the day, the production of a book is a special project. It is an In Real Life event, a hand-held object that has a physical life and span, something not only to be read, but for the reader or readers perhaps to adorn with personalised marginalia, a concretised narrative that can be physically place-marked with folded page corners, easily navigated (no endless screen scrolling) and delved into anywhere anytime without plugging-in. The book, far from being an anachronism, is in fact gaining in value as the exponential expansion of electronic media progresses. And books, especially when commissioned to commemorate or celebrate, can be a multiple monument, honouring achievements over time. This is the case with a beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated book, The Many Forms of Contemporary Art, which celebrates 30 years of collecting contemporary art. It is the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma’s monument to its own art collection, in book form.

I think a physical book is still important and it’s a topic we discussed a lot ourselves,’ says Kati Kivinen, Chief Curator of Collections at Kiasma, one of three of the museum’s curators who were driving the project. ‘Personally, I prefer to roam through a book when accessing a theme or topic, rather than looking at hundreds of images of artworks online, even more so after two years of watching everything on screen during the pandemic. Also the book is closer to the works themselves, being concrete – a book lying between an image on screen and the actual artworks.’

In addition to its celebratory aspect, the decision to publish the book was also practical – Kiasma has been undergoing renovations since early 2021 and with its exhibition spaces out of action, and many projects off the agenda, the museum’s curators found themselves time-richer, and in Kivinen’s words ‘with an opportunity of a book project on 30 years of collecting. We have never done a comprehensive overview of the collection like this before and since our publications have always been linked to the exhibitions that we present, this offered a rare chance to concentrate on the collection without this kind of agenda.’

Featured image: Nina Roos, Lost in Yellow, 2000, oil on polycarbonate sheet, metal stand, 90cm x 175cm x 241cm (each sheet), installed in the lobby at Kiasma
Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Petri Virtanen

Read more — Download ‘Celebrating Three Decades of Collecting Contemporary Art’, by Gill Crabbe, as a PDF

Download the interview as a PDF >>

Jouni S. Laiti, Pain of the Earth, 2018–19, birch burl, iron nail, antler, 5.7cm x 11cm x 12cm Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Milk, Monosodium Glutamate, Chewing Gum and Dust – Lasting and Evanescent Material in Kiasma’s Collections

Satu Oksanen, MA, Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Also published in Saara Hacklin, –Kati Kivinen and Satu Oksanen (eds.), The Many Forms of Contemporary Art. The Kiasma Collection Book. A Museum of Contemporary Art Publication 175/2022. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, 2022. Transl. Maija Timonen

Materials used in contemporary art are diverse, and often central to the meanings of the works. On the one hand the material of an artwork can be something tangible, on the other, a piece can take an immaterial form. The idea of a search for the new, questioning and reacting to the surrounding world, is inscribed into contemporary art. Challenging existing methods and trying out new materials in art demands of the museum a continual change in modes of operation. Museums must find new means of collecting, preserving and exhibiting art. New materials also propose new ways of experiencing art for the spectator.

The art collection of a museum is also a collection of materials. An enormous mass of matter has been accumulated in store rooms, an assembly of ageing bodies of artworks. Transience and the fragility of materials is nothing new in art, but the use of materials that are vulnerable to the ravages of time has increased in contemporary art. At different points in time attitudes towards materiality and its meanings have shifted. In Finland a significant change in the use of artistic materials occurred in the 1960s, when the use of new and alternative materials became common. The traditional materials of sculptures, such as wood, stone and bronze had to make way for polyurethane, perspex and fibreglass. Oil-based paints were traded in for acrylic.[1] . Digitality has been visible in art particularly since the end of the last millennium. In the 2000s ideas around new materialism shifted attention to the agency of materials.

[1] Kirsti Harva. ‘Teosten toinen elämä. Vaikuttavuus konservaattorin näkökulmasta’, in Päivi Rajakari (ed.), Mitä meillä oli ennen Kiasmaa? Kokoelmatoiminnan vaikuttavuus. Helsinki: Valtion taidemuseo / KEHYS, 2008, 272.

Featured image: Jouni S. Laiti, Pain of the Earth, 2018–19, birch burl, iron nail, antler, 5.7cm x 11cm x 12cm, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Read more — Download ‘Milk, Monosodium Glutamate, Chewing Gum and Dust Lasting and Evanescent Material in Kiasma’s Collections’, by Satu Oksanen, as a PDF

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Johanna Lecklin, Story Café, 2004–10, videotape, video projection, neon sign and live art, photographed at the ‘It’s a Set-up’ collection exhibition at Kiasma, 2010. Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Dialogues, Complaints, Coffee, and Dough. When the Viewer Participates

Kaija Kaitavuori, PhD, art historian and researcher on contemporary art

Also published in Saara Hacklin, Kati Kivinen and Satu Oksanen (eds.), The Many Forms of Contemporary Art. The Kiasma Collection Book. A Museum of Contemporary Art Publication 175 / 2022. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, 2022

In the late 1990s, art exhibitions began to include works that required active participation from the viewer. It was no longer enough just to look at the works: they invited or even demanded that the visitor do something. This feature has changed the traditional exhibition experience. It has also posed new challenges for museum collection and exhibition practices.

The viewer engages in dialogue

In 1996, the Museum of Contemporary Art held an exhibition that deliberately opened up space for the visitor’s contribution. Curated by the Chief Curator Maaretta Jaukkuri, the exhibition was called ‘Dialogues’.[1] The artists presented the opening lines and then handed over to the viewers, who added their own responses to the discussion. Together, these tentative, suggestive and experimental contributions formed the actual work of art.

One of the works in the exhibition was a sculpture by Tiina Ketara: a human-sized figure, resembling the artist, lying on the floor. As the viewer approached, they heard a gentle plea: ‘Help me. Hey, you there, come closer!’ The work asked the viewer to help her sit up and eventually stand. When the viewer complied, the doll chatted some more, said that things were not going well, and finally sang a song. Confronted with the work, the viewer had to make decisions about his or her own attitude and actions. Should I accept the invitation, step up to the work, touch it? In making the decision to participate, the viewer entered the territory of the work, became part of it and at the same time was exposed to the gaze of others in the space. The visitor was no longer a spectator among others, but part of the work: a participant. The very title of the work, You and I (1996), addresses the viewer. Here we are: I, the work, lying here, and you, next to me, watching, listening, perhaps touching. Or maybe ‘I’ is the spectator, and ‘you’ the work, in front of me, talking to me, making a request. Or is ‘you’ the other spectator, with whom we negotiate, perhaps without words, the modus operandi. Will you go, shall I join you, do we dare to approach?

[1] The foreword of the exhibition catalogue quotes David Bohm, who defines dialogue in a broad way as ‘a stream of meaning flowing among and through us, and between us’. Maaretta Jaukkuri (ed.). Dialogues. A Museum of Contemporary Art Publication 36/1996. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art, 1996, 6–7.

Featured image: Johanna Lecklin, Story Café, 2004–10, videotape, video projection, neon sign and live art, photographed at the ‘It’s a Set-up’ collection exhibition at Kiasma, 2010.
Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Read more — Download ‘Dialogues, Complaints, Coffee, and Dough. When the Viewer Participates’, by Kaija Kaitavuori, as a PDF

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Screenshot from Eino Ruutsalo’s film Kinetic Pictures, 1962 Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

‘I Wish to Be a Field of Constant Transformation’ – Eino Ruutsalo’s Experimental Approaches in the 1960s

Marko Home, PhD, independent researcher

At the beginning of February 1968, Eino Ruutsalo (1921–2001) was having an exhibition ’Valo ja liike’ (Light and Movement), at the Amos Anderson Art Museum in Helsinki. Sam Vanni (1908–1992), who had been a major innovator in Finnish painting in the 1950s, was also due to take part in this exhibition. However, Vanni was outraged to see that his paintings were being hung alongside Ruutsalo’s electrically-operated kinetic works. As a result, Vanni decided to withdraw his work from the exhibition, and this happened at such a late stage that the exhibition catalogue had already been printed, and his contribution could no longer be removed from it.[1] This episode is one example of many in which Ruutsalo challenged the conventions of the Finnish art scene in the 1960s.

In September 2021, a week before the centenary of Ruutsalo’s birth, I defended my dissertation in art history at the University of Helsinki. The aim of my research was to examine the role of this visual artist and filmmaker Ruutsalo in the new forms of art emerging in Finland during the 1960s.[2] The main source material for my research was Ruutsalo’s previously unexplored private archive, which includes the manuscript of his unpublished memoir, correspondence, notes, newspaper clippings, photographs and exhibition catalogues.[3] Other sources I consulted consisted of material in several archival institutions, interviews, exhibition critiques and newspaper articles, and of course Ruutsalo’s works.

Based on my research, I also published a non-fiction book about Eino Ruutsalo for the general public[4], as well as co-curated with Katja Ikäläinen an exhibition on Eino Ruutsalo’s experimental approaches in the 1960s for the Ateneum Art Museum’s Focus Gallery[5]. I also curated a retrospective of Eino Ruutsalo’s films for the National Audiovisual Institute’s cinema Kino Regina[6]. The aforementioned projects have reminded the audience in Finland that Eino Ruutsalo is one of the key names in the history of the Finnish avant-garde. Since my doctoral dissertation is written in Finnish, the aim of this article is to give foreign readers a brief summary of Ruutsalo’s diverse artistic activities.

[1] Eino Ruutsalo. ‘Maalarin rytmiä etsimässä’ (‘In Search of the Painter’s Rhythm’), unpublished memoir, 2000, 77. The Eino Ruutsalo Archive (ERA). Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery (AC, FNG); Valo ja liike / Ljus och rörelse (Light and Movement), Amos Andersonin taidemuseo (Amos Anderson Art Museum), 7–14 February 1968, exhibition catalogue.

[2] Marko Home. ‘Pysähtymisessä vaanii kuolema’ – Eino Ruutsalon kokeellinen 1960-luku (‘Death lurks in stagnation’ – Eino Ruutsalo’s Experimental 1960s). Helsinki: University of Helsinki, 2021,  https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/333635 (accessed 5 January 2022).

[4] Marko Home. Eino Ruutsalo – Kineettisten kuvien maalari (‘Eino Ruutsalo – Painter of Kinetic Pictures’). Helsinki: Parvs, 2021, https://parvs.fi/en/books/eino-ruutsalo/?lang_switched=1 (accessed 5 January 2022).

[5] ‘Focus Gallery: Eino Ruutsalo’s Experimental 1960s’, Ateneum Art Museum, 14 September 2021 – 27 March 2022, https://ateneum.fi/en/exhibitions/fokus-gallery-eino-ruutsalos-experimental-1960s/ (accessed 5 January 2022).

[6] Kino Regina: ‘Eino Ruutsalo 100 vuotta’, 2021–2022, https://kinoregina.fi/teemat/eino-ruutsalo-100-vuotta/ (accessed 5 January 2022).

Featured image: Screenshot from Eino Ruutsalo’s film Kinetic Pictures, 1962
Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

Read more — Download ‘I Wish to Be a Field of Constant Transformation’ – Eino Ruutsalo’s Experimental Approaches in the 1960s’, by Marko Home, as a PDF

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nabbteeri, Rubbish video (detail), 2014, projection screens, video installation, 00:05:28s, loop Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Recycled Utopia – Where Art and Everyday Life Coalesce

Ida Pakarinen, MA, University of Helsinki

This article is published as a result of a three-month research internship at the Finnish National Gallery

Plastic. Used electronics, cables, tons of cereal packages, textiles, cigarette butts, radioactive landfills and repositories, glass bottles and rusted cans. Plastic, plastic, plastic. Plastic in all shapes.

We have all seen the photos of the shorelines filled with the trash the oceans have spat back. Some of us are living in the middle of that dumpster-like reality every day. Yet those photos do not move us so much anymore, paradoxically exactly because of the amount of the trash we live with. We no longer see plastic as an alien subject, because it has completely invaded our lives.

I was 15 years old when I first heard about the infamous Great Pacific rubbish patch, the drastically huge island-like area that is said to be nowadays three times the size of France. Imagining this vortex of faded coloured shampoo bottles, toys, straws and fishing nets floating on the sea made me feel weak and hopeless. It was an awakening moment, and the dystopian shadowy feeling has become even bigger over the years. In an era of eco crisis, thoughts of conspicuous consumption, mass extinctions and hazardous changes in the weather and nature keep restlessly sprawling across my mind. As a beginner art researcher, I’ve been contemplating how much the Finnish contemporary art world has raised its head to these matters. It is obvious that my interest in these matters comes from a concern and an anxiety towards the ecosystem. My thoughts have been especially about trash and recycling. That is why I applied for this research intern job in the Finnish National Gallery.

In this article, I want to see how much and which recycled materials have been used in Finnish contemporary art. For me recycled material means something that is not bought as new. By trash I mean all the thrown away material that cannot be seen to have any use anymore. This material includes broken utensils, old electronics and other devices, expendable objects such as cans, plastic wrap, cardboard, wrapping paper, and all the disused, outdated objects. My focus is then on human-made products, thus excluding natural materials such as wood, hair, fur and offal from my research, yet all these aforesaid materials are refined by humans. This framing excludes many influential pieces from Finnish contemporary artists such as Kaisu Koivisto, who has used a lot of animal-based material in her art. Yet she has also used plenty of human-made recycled materials in her artistic practice, such as objects she has found from rubbish skips.[1]

[1] An interview with Kaisu Koivisto, 25 November 2021. Interviewer Ida Pakarinen. Interview made in Koivisto’s studio apartment in Helsinki. Length 01:01:26. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki (AC, FNG).

Featured image: nabbteeri, Rubbish video (detail), 2014, projection screens, video installation, 00:05:28, loop
Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Read more — Download ‘Recycled Utopia – Where Art and Everyday Life Coalesce’, by Ida Pakarinen, as a PDF

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The Gothic Modern group admires the interior of Espoo Cathedral Photo: Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff

Out in the Field – a Gothic Modern Tour

The Gothic Modern research and exhibition project partners meeting in Finland, Thursday 11 November 2021

Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, PhD, Chief Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

The international research and exhibition project Gothic Modern started in 2018 and it will conclude with an exhibition in the Autumn of 2024. ‘Gothic Modern: from Northern Renaissance to Dark, Emotive, Uncanny Modern Art’ explores the pivotal importance of Gothic art for the artistic modernisms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This ambitious new approach to modern art focuses on the untold story of Nordic and Northern European medieval reinventions, from the 1890s to the fall of the Weimar Republic. The project aims to illuminate the Gothic as a core fascination for early 20th-century art, transcending nationalism, straddling war and its aftermath. It is also a compelling exploration of the Gothic for the 21st century, examining individual, gender and transnational community, entwined with the dark, the emotive and uncanny. The project partners are the Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki, the National Museum, Oslo and Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, with Professor Juliet Simpson as the guest curator.

The Ateneum Art Museum was delighted to host the first face-to-face partners workshop in Helsinki in November of last year, as the project team has been working remotely due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Featured image: The Gothic Modern group admires the interior of Espoo Cathedral
Photo: Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff

Read more — Download ‘Out in the Field – a Gothic Modern Tour’, by Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, as a PDF

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Two Research Interns Appointed at the Finnish National Gallery for 2022

Two research interns have been selected for the FNG research internship programme for 2022. The decisions were made based on the applications and the following points were underlined:

  • The point of view of the archives and collections: priority was given to students whose applications were based on a concrete and defined part of the FNG collections and especially to previously unstudied and/or topical materials
  • Preparation of the working plan and the research questions related to the chosen collections material

 

The FNG research intern programme has two aims. The Finnish National Gallery wishes to enhance the study of its collections, including artworks, archives, and objects. At the same time it wishes to support students who choose to study subjects based on physical collections and objects, archive material and data.

The research interns at the Finnish National Gallery for 2022 are:

Hilla Männikkö, University of Helsinki

The miniatures in the Collection of the Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum from the viewpoint of materialism; the miniatures in the collection, conservation material at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, photographs and other archival material in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery, collections of the Finnish National Gallery Library

Laura Nissinen, University of Helsinki

Connections between scientific imagery and Finnish art at the turn of the 19th century, especially anatomical images; sketches and sketchbooks in the Collection of the Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, photographs and other archival material in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery, collections of the Finnish National Gallery Library

Both interns have already started their three-month internship and have their own in-house tutors to support them with studying their chosen material.

For more information about the FNG’s research internship programme: fngr@nationalgallery.fi

Paul Sinebrychoff and Fanny Grahn, as an engaged couple, 1883. Photographer: Johannes Jaeger. Collection of Archived Photo Prints. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery

Editorial: Celebrating the Milestones

Kirsi Eskelinen, PhD, Museum Director, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum

 

19 November 2021

 

 

The Finnish National Gallery recognises the importance of celebrating key moments in its cultural history. This year marks the centenary jubilee of the donation of Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Art Collection to the Finnish State. And next spring the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma celebrates the 10th edition of one of the most important shows in its calendar, ARS22, marking 60 years of ARS exhibitions that take the temperature of the contemporary art world.

The Sinebrychoffs’ house museum was opened to the public for the first time on 27 November 1921. At the opening ceremony, the art collection was presented to the political leadership of the young republic. Those in attendance included the President of the Republic and his wife, all of the cabinet ministers, and civil servants from the church and education ministries. The donation was reported widely in the Press. In a newly independent Finland it was a unique and exceptionally grand collection of old European art. The leading art experts of the time praised its artistic level, particularly in terms of the artworks.

The Sinebrychoffs’ house on Bulevardi has seen many changes in the past century. The same can be said of the house museum that it became. The building was last renovated extensively at the end of the 1990s, including a restoration of the rooms on the Bulevardi side to their appearance at the time of the Sinebrychoffs. Black-and-white photographs of the rooms taken by Signe Brander in 1912 made this reconstruction possible. The photographs were used to place the furniture and artworks in the locations they had occupied during the Sinebrychoffs’ lifetimes. The house museum as we know it today opened its doors in early 2003.

The Sinebrychoff Art Museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of the donation with a jubilee publication, which throws light on the house museum as a whole. Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff decorated the rooms on the Bulevardi side of the building in a range of styles. A great deal of Paul Sinebrychoff’s correspondence has been preserved regarding the purchases for the collection, which allows us to envision the planned, long-term process that shaped it. The Sinebrychoffs were very informed about the collection trends and interior decoration fashions of the time, which is visible in many ways in their collection.

The jubilee publication A Bulevardi Home – Art Collectors Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff, includes a collection of scholarly articles. Kari-Paavo Kokki’s essay places Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s house museum in a European context. He examines the possible influences on the rooms, which were decorated in a variety of styles, in relation to contemporary fashion and style trends, but above all, he focuses on individual artefacts and furniture and their details. FNG Research also publishes an interview with him in this issue. Here too we republish another essay from the book, by Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, MA, a curator at the Finnish National Gallery, which approaches the collection through the couple’s travels in the 1880s and 1890s, based on Paul Sinebrychoff’s correspondence archive.

Also in the jubilee publication Professor Charlotta Wolff examines Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s collection and art collecting in the frame of reference of late 19th-century Finland. Prof. Wolff visualises the collection itself and its special traits as an expression of its time. Chief Curator of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum Ira Westergård, PhD, delves into the donation of the art collection, and particularly Fanny Sinebrychoff’s role in the donation process, as well as the history of the collection after the donation as far as the outbreak of the Winter War at the end of the 1930s.

The jubilee celebration also marks the inauguration of the renewed display of the permanent collection at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Many of the acquisitions made during the past seven years are on show, including recently acquired paintings by Jacopo Bassano, Giorgio Gandini del Grano, Abraham Bloemaert, Salvator Rosa and Henry Raeburn among others. The Friends of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum celebrate their 10th anniversary of activity and all 22 artworks that have been donated by them are on show for this occasion.

As part of the Finnish National Gallery’s international research and exhibition project ‘Gothic Modern’, this issue of FNG Research includes a presentation given earlier this year to the project’s first knowledge sharing workshop. Dr Jeremy Howard’s abstract highlights the influence of the Gothic on Russian art and culture through exploring the metaphor of the vault.

An article by Katariina Johde and Hanne Tikkala explores new approaches to conservation work that they have carried out at the Finnish National Gallery’s Conservation Unit. They highlight the value of research that combines extended observations using the naked eye together with the latest technology in assessing the condition of the much-loved painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake View (1901).

Also in this issue of FNG Research, Saara Hacklin, PhD, curator at Kiasma, follows the work of five printmakers, all alumnae of the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, to explore how the relationship to the human body is manifested in their artworks.

Feeling the pulse of the contemporary art world locally and internationally has been the remit of the ARS exhibitions, which every five years have presented an overview in their thematic shows. Ahead of the 10th edition, ARS22, opening in April at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Gill Crabbe interviews Museum Director Leevi Haapala and Chief Curator João Laia about the research and curation processes involved in creating this landmark exhibition.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to our annual call for research interns for 2022. Applications will be taken until 31 December 2021, and two interns selected by 21 January 2022. Details of how to apply are in this issue.

Featured image: Paul Sinebrychoff and Fanny Grahn, when they were engaged to be married, 1883. Photographer: Johannes Jaeger. Collection of Archived Photo Prints. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

Read more — Download FNG Research No. 3/2021 as a PDF

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David Beck (1621−56), studio, Christina, Queen of Sweden, oil on canvas, 68cm x 56cm Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola

Art and Travel: The First Steps in the Formation of Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s Collection in 1883–99

Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, MA, Curator, Archives and Library Unit, Finnish National Gallery

This is a revised version of the article published in Salla Heino (ed.), Koti Bulevardilla – Keräilijät Paul ja Fanny Sinebrychoff / Ett hem på Bulevarden – Konstsamlarna Paul och Fanny Sinebrychoff / A Bulevardi Home – Art Collectors Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff. Sinebrychoff Art Museum Publications. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum, 2021. Transl. Mike Garner

Paul Sinebrychoff the Younger (1859–1917) was only 29 years old in 1886 when, with the support of his mother, he took charge of the family-owned brewery. When he had married the actress Fanny Grahn (1862‒1921) three years earlier, he did not yet have responsibility for the family business and the young couple were able to travel abroad and explore art treasures. Thus began a lifelong passion for culture and the Sinebrychoffs started collecting art in the late 1890s and, as a result of nearly thirty years of collecting, in 1921 Fanny Sinebrychoff donated the collection of approximately 900 works to the Finnish State at the joint request of the couple.

During those decades Paul Sinebrychoff used to write letters in the evenings concerning art acquisitions to various specialists, mainly in Sweden, but later in other parts of Europe. The Archives of the Finnish Art Society at the Finnish National Gallery’s Archive Collections contain approximately 1,300 letters and responses to and from Sinebrychoff between 1891 and 1914. My essay explores the way that Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s art collection was formed as a consequence of their journeys to Sweden. The information about those journeys and art acquisitions comes from this research into Paul Sinebrychoff’s correspondence.

An appreciation of the context surrounding these now-digitised letters is of paramount importance in gaining an overview. For example, in analysing Henryk Bukowski’s 19th-century auction catalogues, I was aided by a knowledge of, for instance, Swedish art collectors, their collections, and the sales of individual works of art. My research also covers the Sinebrychoffs’ personal relationships with art historians, antiques dealers, and especially with art collectors. For example, the Sinebrychoffs made their first purchases of artworks directly from artists, collectors and antiques dealers.

Featured image: David Beck (1621−56), studio, Christina, Queen of Sweden, oil on canvas, 68cm x 56cm. Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

Read more — Download ‘Art and Travel: The First Steps in the Formation of Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s Collection in 1883–99’, by Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, as a PDF

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