Riitta Ojanperä, PhD, Director of Collections Management, Finnish National Gallery
27 November 2020
This autumn all three museums of the Finnish National Gallery have been a hive of activity. New shows have been opened and our audiences have received their exhibition programmes with enthusiasm. This is most rewarding after the Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year. It underlines the relevance of long-term and focussed art-history based research, which is the steady cornerstone of our exhibition programmes. Our current programme opens new horizons in looking at both Finnish and Italian art.
In this issue of FNG Research magazine we publish four articles that first appeared earlier this autumn in the context of a monographic exhibition of the artist Magnus Enckell (1870–1925) at the Ateneum Art Museum. Enckell was one of the key figures during the period when Finnish artists were being influenced by Symbolist phenomena in Paris during the early 1890s. Some 20 years later, Enckell was considered to be one of the first to lead Finnish painters towards a notable strand of Neo-Impressionism.
Comprehensive exhibitions of Enckell’s work have been rare in recent decades, but both the man and his art have been a constant source of interest to Finnish critics and art historians since his death. Enckell has been considered an enigmatic and rather inaccessible person. In the late 1900s and early 2000s, one reason for this was revealed in the art-historical studies undertaken by Harri Kalha, as well as Juha-Heikki Tihinen. Kalha’s article in the current exhibition catalogue, based on his extensive monographic study from 2005, discusses the discursive strategies of veiling and unveiling Enckell’s covert homosexuality, which seemingly created a deliberately enigmatic and rather inaccessible aura around Enckell’s person. Marja Lahelma sheds light on Enckell’s work after the turn of the 20th century from the perspective of the philosophical and health-promoting aspects of vitalism. The theme of plein air and marine landscape in relation to Enckell’s art is discussed by Anne-Maria Pennonen. And a new approach towards the artist’s late career is outlined by Marja Sakari, one of the exhibition’s curators.
For the first time ever in Finland, the Sinebrychoff Art Museum brings together more than 20 oil paintings, in addition to drawings and etchings, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his son Domenico. The exhibition includes a significant tranche of drawings by the Tiepolos from The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, whose leading Tiepolo expert, Dr Irina Artemieva, is interviewed in this issue. According to Dr Artemieva, the very subject of the exhibition, Tiepolo’s art in Northern Europe, is already new and offers a fresh approach to the study of these great Venetian masters. The show, and the research associated with the exhibition that is published in an accompanying catalogue, is set to stimulate justified interest and surprises among Tiepolo specialists internationally.
FNG Research magazine, together with the Ateneum Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, wishes readers and collaborators inspiring and thought-provoking discoveries in our latest issue.
Featured image: Magnus Enckell, a page from a sketch book, 1912, probably showing the Variety Theatre Bal Tabar in Paris, pencil on paper, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen
Read more — Download FNG Research No. 6/2020 as a PDF