Telegram dated 26 March 1909 from Paul Sinebrychoff in Helsinki to Professor Osvald Sirén in Stockholm about an acquisition of a painting assumed to be by Rubens. Paul Sinebrychoff’s Letters 1900–1909. The Archive of the Finnish Art Society. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola

Editorial: New Angles for Researchers and the Public Alike

Hanna-Leena Paloposki, PhD, Senior Researcher, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki

 

28 November 2018

 

This year important steps have been taken to make the FNG collection – its artworks, archive material and objects – more available to everyone. We have written about them in FNG Research, too. In the July issue we discussed collections metadata. A huge amount of work has been – and continues to be – undertaken to improve the available metadata now that we have migrated the collections into the new collections management system. The metadata work is now inextricably linked with presenting the collections online. We have also opened up the images of our copyright-free artworks online into the public domain with the CC0 license. We will have better information to offer and images available in a more convenient way when the new website is launched in 2019.

One example of this metadata work is the cataloguing into our new system of correspondence on the art acquisitions of the businessman and brewery owner Paul Sinebrychoff. Although some of this material has already been available online via the Sinebychoff Art Museum website, it will soon be accessible via the same webpage as the artworks belonging to the Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Art Collection which nowadays forms part of the FNG / Sinebrychoff Art Museum collection. Our curator, who has a long-standing and extensive knowledge of the collection, is linking the letters to the Old Masters mentioned that are now in the FNG collection, together with facsimiles of the letters and transcriptions of their content.

To give another example, the media art at the FNG / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma is being assigned more precise and versatile metadata as works of this kind are being recatalogued. Collections research is thus being carried out within the Finnish National Gallery every day and it is for the benefit for all the users, either in-house or in the wider world.

Many of the exhibitions of the three FNG museums and their publications shed light on the research being carried out into the collections. In this issue we reproduce two articles from the catalogue Urban Encounters. Finnish Art in the Twentieth Century accompanying the current exhibition at the Ateneum. Both the book and the exhibition scrutinise the art collection from new angles, offering a chance to get acquainted with works the public might not have been able to see before. Also in this issue of FNG Research, an interview with Dr. Marja Lahelma, author of the new book on Akseli Gallen-Kallela in the series Artists of the Ateneum, tells us how you can find a different interpretation of a very well-known and much studied artist in Finland, who is also well represented in the FNG collection.

I hope you enjoy reading our latest issue of FNG Research.

Featured image: Telegram dated 26 March 1909 from Paul Sinebrychoff in Helsinki to Professor Osvald Sirén in Stockholm about an acquisition of a painting assumed to be by Rubens. Paul Sinebrychoff’s Letters 1900–1909. The Archive of the Finnish Art Society. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola

Gösta Diehl, Bombed Village, 1950, oil on canvas, 190cm x 260cm Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Tuominen

Encounters between Art, Humanity and the Modern

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

Also published in Anu Utriainen (ed.), Urban Encounters. Finnish Art in the Twentieth Century. Ateneum Publications Vol. 105. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum 2018, 10–30. Transl. Mike Garner

Without the concepts of modernity, modernism and modernisation, it would be hard to talk about the arts of the 20th century and about their relationship with the reality of their own time. Modernisation, as a societal and social phenomenon from the first decades of the 19th century onwards, meant rapid technological development, industrialisation and urbanisation. As the means of livelihood and the norms regulating communities changed, individual people’s lives and living environments changed, too. Art also changed and particularly rapidly in the early years of the 20th century, when the old societal structures of western countries with monarchies were creaking at the seams.[1]

From the 19th century onwards one of the major ideological and political shifts in European modernisation was the strengthening of the ideal of the nation and the founding of nation states. Technological development went hand in hand with innovations in the sciences and created the potential for unprecedented economic growth. The spiritual and practical ascendancy of ecclesiastical institutions was called into question and rational information offered itself as a basis for modern world views. Individuals appeared to have a new potential to shape their own lives and surroundings through education and new channels of social influence. The option of calling into question and breaking down trade, class and gender boundaries that predetermined people’s lives, if and when they were experienced as a threat to self-determination, has contributed to the modern conception of what it is to be human.

[1] See Hobsbawm, Eric. Äärimmäisyyksien aika. Lyhyt 1900-luku (19141991). Tampere: Osuuskunta Vastapaino 1999 [original English The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991, 1994]. In his brief history of the 20th century Hobsbawm ties the modern and especially the history of avant-garde art into being a fixed part of the century’s historical development.

Featured image: Gösta Diehl, Bombed Village, 1950, oil on canvas, 190cm x 260cm Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Tuominen

Read more — Download ‘Encounters between Art, Humanity and the Modern’, by Riitta Ojanperä, as a PDF

Download the Full Article as a PDF >>

Helena Pylkkänen, Masculine / Recumbent Torso, 1986–87, bronze, 68cm x 42cm x 36cm Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

The Nude Stripped of Dignity

Anu Utriainen, MA, Senior Researcher, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki

Also published in Anu Utriainen (ed.), Urban Encounters. Finnish Art in the Twentieth Century. Ateneum Publications Vol. 105. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum 2018, 138–66. Transl. Don McCracken

The nude body has appeared in visual art and culture in myriad ways and styles; it has been interpreted from different starting points throughout history and imbued with various meanings. The nude has reflected transitions, both within the arts and in broader historical, political and social contexts, and it reveals changes in the concepts of beauty, morality, and attitudes towards gender. As an art object, the nude exposes the model’s surface and depth: especially in the modern age, the nude is an image of both the human form and the psyche.

It is worth asking why and for whom the nude image has been created, and in what context it should be viewed and interpreted. The classic male nude is presented in Western art as a heroic, universal subject, or a mythological deity.[1] The body of a naked man has also been perceived as a sensuous object, but it is not automatically regarded as an object of sexual desire, despite its virility and masculinity. A traditional male nude was portrayed as self-motivated, actively shaping his own world, while women found themselves subject to a demeaning erotic gaze, stripped not only of clothing, but also of their power and autonomy. Masculinity symbolises both vitality and a well-developed mental and intellectual capacity. In contrast to his female counterpart, the male nude embodies a potent mix of power, control and agency, and the gaze appears to be directed outwards from the work of art towards the spectator, rather than the other way around.[2]

[1] See Natter, Tobias G. & Leopold, Elisabeth (eds). Nude Men: From 1800 to the Present Day. Exhibition catalogue, Leopold Museum, Vienna 19.10.201228.1.2013. Munich: Hirmer 2012.

[2] E.g. Solomon-Godeau, Abigail. Male Trouble: A Crisis in Representation. London: Thames & Hudson 1997, 33–35. In Finland, Marja-Terttu Kivirinta has addressed Modernism and modernisation in her dissertation, e.g. through the concept of biopower, cf. Kivirinta. Vieraita vaikutteita karsimassa. Helene Schjerfbeck ja Juho Rissanen. Sukupuoli, luokka ja Suomen taiteen rakentuminen 1910–20-luvulla. Helsinki: University of Helsinki 2014.

Featured image: Helena Pylkkänen, Masculine / Recumbent Torso, 1986–87, bronze, 68cm x 42cm x 36cm. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Read more — Download ‘The Nude Stripped of Dignity’, by Anu Utriainen, as a PDF

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Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lemminkäinen's Mother, 1897, tempera on canvas, 85.5cm x 108.5 cm Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Beyond a National Icon

Interview by Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

As a new book on Akseli Gallen-Kallela is published, its author Dr. Marja Lahelma, describes the challenges of finding fresh interpretations of an artist who earned his reputation as a national hero in his home country

When Marja Lahelma’s book on Hugo Simberg was published last year as part of the Artists of the Ateneum series, it enjoyed such a positive reception that she was asked by the then Director of Ateneum Art Museum Susanna Petterson to write another book – this time on the great national hero of Finland’s Golden Age painters, Akseli Gallen-Kallela. This series of books initiated by the Finnish National Gallery aims to shed new light on the classics of Finnish art. For Lahelma, researching this second book presented different kinds of challenges to the one she wrote on Simberg.

The first challenge was a practical one: whereas with Simberg she had been able to comb through almost all of the material available relating to him during her research period, with Gallen-Kallela there was an overwhelming wealth of source material, and she had just eight months to produce her manuscript. This time frame meant that Lahelma would need to be selective with the materials she used and that selection process would need to be driven by a strong thematic approach.

The second challenge – and by far the greater of the two – was for Lahelma to find a way to look beyond the prevailing views and interpretations of an artist who, in terms of Finnish culture, achieved an iconic status, not only within Finnish art history but within Finnish society as a whole. Here was a man, credited as a national hero, whose art was a touchstone of Finland’s quest for its independent nationhood through the depiction of a national landscape and through an exploration of the mythic dimension of Finnishness in his narrative paintings of the epic poem The Kalevala. A man whose funeral in 1931 was attended by the great and the good of the country, and where ‘vast crowds lined the streets of Helsinki to pay their respects to an artist whose work had become the shared heritage of the entire Finnish nation’.[1]

[1] Susanna Pettersson, ‘Vision, Curiosity, and Thirst for Adventure (Introduction).’ In Artists of the Ateneum: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, by Marja Lahelma. Ateneum Publications Vol. 110. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2018, 6.

Featured image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lemminkäinen’s Mother, 1897, tempera on canvas, 85.5cm x 108.5 cm. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

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 the interview as a PDF

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Tyko Sallinen, Barn Dance, 1918, oil on canvas, 114.5cm x 138cm. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Antti Kuivalainen

Conferences: [no title] NORDIK XII 2018, Copenhagen 24–27 October 2018

Conference Session: Art, Artists and Art Institutions in Times of War and Conflicts

Hanna-Leena Paloposki, PhD, Senior Researcher, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki

The Nordic Association of Art Historians (NORDIK) organises an academic conference every three years. In 2015 the conference was held in Reykjavik and this year it took place in Copenhagen at the University of Copenhagen. Three keynote lectures and 18 sessions were held during the three conference days.

I co-managed a two-part session, ‘Art, Artists and Art Institutions in Times of War and Conflicts’, along with Maija Koskinen (University of Helsinki). The theme originates from our research interests. Maija Koskinen is due to defend her doctoral thesis, Artistically Regenerating and Politically Topical The exhibitions of Kunsthalle Helsinki 192868, in January 2019. The thesis examines Kunsthalle Helsinki and its impact on the Finnish art field in the context of power and politics before, during and after the Second World War. She will focus next on the Finnish art field during the Cold War. I wrote my PhD (2012) on The role of art exhibitions in Finnish-Italian relations concerning the visual arts from the 1920s to the end of the Second World War. My current research topic is Finnish art exhibitions in the 1930s in the international, political, and nationalist contexts and in promoting Finland.

Featured image: Tyko Sallinen, Barn Dance, 1918, oil on canvas, 114.5cm x 138cm. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Antti Kuivalainen

Read more — Download the description of the conference session as a PDF

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For details of the full conference programme and abstracts, visit

https://nordikxii.dk/images/NORDIK_XII_-_Full_programme_2018.10.15_3.pdf

Paul Sinebrychoff’s study in the house museum at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Sonja Hyytiäinen

Editorial: Feeling at Home at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum

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

 

27 September 2018

 

The collection of Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff, donated to the Finnish State in 1921, and now on show on the second floor of the house museum, is the heart of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. The display is a faithful reconstruction of their home as it was during the 1910s. It was opened in 2003 after a thorough renovation of the whole museum building.

In addition to its important collection of Old Master paintings, the house museum also includes a unique and rare collection of furniture, as well as porcelain, mirrors, clocks etc. Some of these pieces have turned out to be of a very special value as, for example, the cylinder secretaire in mahogany with its intarsia decoration, a masterpiece by the 18th-century Swedish carpenter Gustaf Adolph Ditzinger (1760–1800).

The artworks and various objects in the house museum offer us a special challenge. How to tell our audience the story of the house museum and the many stories behind the individual objects? How to give a voice to the collectors Paul and Fanny? Visitors are also interested to hear about life in the house at different historical moments.

In fact we have already taken some first steps to meet that challenge. A couple of years ago we launched a dramatised guided tour. Visitors can enjoy the life and atmosphere of the house as it would have been 100 years ago at the beginning of 20th century, while being guided through the house by ‘Fanny Sinebrychoff’ herself. In addition, some years ago we published a virtual tour of the house museum on the museum’s website, in which visitors can explore and enjoy the different rooms with all their furnishings. Paul’s study offers a chance to deepen the virtual visit even further, as you can learn more about the individual works of art hanging on the walls just by clicking on them on the web page. We also recently renewed the display of the Paul Sinebrychoff’s miniatures collection and in a new initiative we made the tiny portraits more accessible to visitors with the aid of tablets, which magnify the details and show images of the hidden parts of these objects.

Now we have just launched an audio-guided tour of the house museum which takes you through the rooms in the company of ‘Paul and Fanny’. You can enjoy this tour in the museum’s website, at home or listen to it on your mobile phone while strolling around the museum. We hope that in the future we are able to tell our audience even more fascinating stories of the people who have lived at this special home, and their beloved collection, their life.

This autumn we have just opened ‘Moved to tears: Staging emotions’ at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. The exhibition explores the reciprocal influences of theatre and painting in expressing emotions through gestures and poses. The works of art on show date from the Baroque era to the late 19th century. The exhibition is dedicated to Fanny Sinebrychoff, who was herself a celebrated actress in the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki before she married Paul Sinebrychoff in 1883. See the interview with the curator of the exhibition, Laura Gutman in the FNG Research issue 3/2018 (https://research.fng.fi/category/issues/2018-no-3/).

In this issue of FNG Research we are happy to publish the first peer-reviewed article written for the magazine: Art Collections Born through Division ─ Kouri Collection Case Study, by Kari Tuovinen MSc. Also in this issue the Finnish National Gallery announces its third Call for Research Interns, for 2019.

Featured image: Paul Sinebrychoff’s study in the house museum at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Sonja Hyytiäinen

Click here for a virtual tour of Paul’s study >>

Mario Merz, Untitled (Igloo), 1989, wax, rock, neon, glass, metal, diameter 823cm The Kouri Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Peer Reviewed Article: Art Collections Born through Division ─ Kouri Collection Case Study

Kari Tuovinen, MSc [Econ], independent scholar

Many important art collections have arrived at their current state through division processes. The critic Clement Greenberg, for example, regularly made donations from his private art collection as well as selling off parts of it;[1] after his death the collection was sold to Portland Art Museum but his family kept a number of works.[2] The famous Russian collections of early French Modernism in the Hermitage and the Pushkin museums are the result of splitting up industrialist Sergei Shchukin’s private collection.[3] Such divisions are common in the corporate world. For example, when the ING Bank in the Netherlands was split into insurance and banking operations, its corporate art collection was divided between the two.[4]

The Kouri Collection at the Finnish National Gallery / the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki is also a prominent collection that has gone through a division process. Pentti Kouri (1949─2009) was an investment banker and Professor of Economics at the Universities of Stanford, Yale, and Helsinki. While living in New York in the late 1980s he built up a private collection of about 250 works by artists such as Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Julian Schnabel, and also many less well-known artists.[5] Through a complicated process, 61 works from his collection were transferred to the ownership of the Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki.

There is much research literature on art collecting, but very little research into the processes of dividing up art collections and their outcome. In order to help bridge this gap, this article examines two questions. First, what were the phases and characteristics of dividing up Kouri’s collection, and how were the works selected? Secondly, what was the outcome of the division process, in other words, what are the differences between the original private collection and the current Kouri Collection now in the Finnish National Gallery / the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma?

[1] Wilkin, Karen, 2001. ‘Clement Greenberg: a critical eye’, in Karen Wilkin and Bruce Guenther (eds.), Clement Greenberg, A Critic’s Collection. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 25–26.

[2] After the widow’s death 12 works were auctioned, https://www.christies.com/features/The-Collection-of-Jenny-and-Clement-Greenberg-7319-1.aspx accessed 4 June 2018.

[3] http://www.artnews.com/2017/02/21/an-embarrassment-of-riches-the-shchukin-collection-at-fondation-louis-vuitton-in-paris-overflows-with-modernist-masterpieces-and-offers-dark-parallels-to-our-plutocratic-present/ accessed 1 June 2018.

[4] https://www.ing.com/ING-in-society/Art/ING-Collection.htm accessed 4 June 2018.

[5] Kouri admits that he made ‘very many mistakes’ before finding his ‘line to follow’. Interview with Kouri in Rossi, Leena-Maija, ’Taide on ainoa alue, jossa henkiset arvot ovat vielä jäljellä.’ Helsingin Sanomat, 25 May 1992.

Featured image: Mario Merz, Untitled (Igloo), 1989, wax, rock, neon, glass, metal, diameter 823cm
The Kouri Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen. © Kuvasto 2018

Read more — Download ‘Art Collections Born through Division ─ Kouri Collection Case Study’, by Kari Tuovinen, as a PDF

Download the Full Peer Reviewed Article as a PDF >>