Teemu Mäenpää, Aimless, 2013, ink and acrylic on canvas, 121cm x 105.4cm x 2.1cm The Seppo Fränti Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola

When a Passionate Collector Meets a Museum

Saara Hacklin, PhD, Curator and Kati Kivinen, PhD, Chief Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Also published in Saara Hacklin and Kati Kivinen (eds.), Hullu rakkaus / Galen kärlek / Mad Love. The Seppo Fränti Collection at Kiasma. A Museum of Contemporary Art Publication 170/2020. Helsinki: PARVS, 2020. Transl. Eva Malkki

The curators’ look at the Seppo Fränti Collection

In 2017, Christmas came early for Kiasma. The museum received an extraordinary donation from the Helsinki-based collector and art-lover Seppo Fränti. The donation was preceded by a long dialogue between the collector and the museum’s director Leevi Haapala, and the final seal was placed on the agreement just before Christmas.

For nearly four decades, Fränti has been collecting mostly Finnish visual artists. The main emphasis of his collection, which comprises around 650 works, is on Finnish paintings. As art historian Juha-Heikki Tihinen has said, ‘as a collector, Fränti is a patron who reacts quickly and relies on his gut feeling’.[1] Fränti wants to become friends with the people behind the artworks because, for him, collecting is a passion and a way of life. In recent years, this passion filled up his home.

Generally speaking, Fränti’s collection is a grand gift for the Finnish National Gallery; at the same time, it hides behind it a large amount of work. The museum dived into the project through the processes of transportation, examination, documentation, maintenance, conservation, and restoration. This article looks at the reception of the Fränti Collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. It considers how the character of this private collection might have altered when it became a part of a large public contemporary art collection, and describes the process that the works underwent on arrival and during exhibition planning.

[1] Tihinen, Juha-Heikki, 2016. Häpeämättömästi taiteen puolesta – Seppo Fräntin kokoelma. Helsinki: Lapinlahden Lähde project & Mental Health Finland, 9.

Featured image: Teemu Mäenpää, Aimless, 2013, ink and acrylic on canvas, 121cm x 105.4cm x 2.1cm, The Seppo Fränti Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola

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