Riitta Ojanperä, PhD, Director of Collections Management, Finnish National Gallery
23 January 2021
We are beginning 2021 by publishing a second series of articles on the life and work of the Finnish painter Magnus Enckell (1870–1929). These articles were first published in the exhibition catalogue of Enckell’s monographic exhibition in October 2020.
A focal trait in Enckell’s art was his continued interest in classical European mythology, from his early output up to his very late works. Mythological themes offered him a way to align with the early modern Symbolist movement and its radical ideas in Paris in the early 1890s. These themes also served as a vehicle for the emotional transference he sought in his artistic practice along the lines of the emerging theories in modern psychology and art theory of the period. A fresh look at Enckell’s paintings has also revealed new links between his Neo-impressionist period from the early 1910s and European vitalist philosophy.
A major outcome of the Magnus Enckell research project is the publication of a separate illustrated catalogue of the artist’s paintings and graphic works, which is intended particularly as a future resource for the art-historical research community. A survey was conducted simultaneously with the exhibition project among Finnish museums, foundations and institutions that elicited information about several works in private collections that could be included as well. The catalogue refers to and complements to an extent a constitutive biography and catalogue raisonné of Enckell’s art by Dr Jaakko Puokka, published in 1949. Our new catalogue is available only online.
Accomplished artist women from Finnish art history have raised continuing interest internationally and some, such as the painter Helene Schjerfbeck, have been presented in solo exhibitions and gradually included in the canon of modern European art. However, the matter of looking more thoroughly than previously into women’s contribution in art is by no means complete. On the contrary, the results of an intensified investment in researching, for example the limiting conditions faced by women artists on their way to a more or less recognised artistic career, are yet to be seen. Now the Ateneum Art Museum, as part of the Finnish National Gallery, is participating in a groundbreaking project in co-operation with the national galleries of Sweden (Nationalmuseum, Stockholm) and Norway (National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo) to shed new light and share innovative approaches to Nordic women sculptors between 1870 and 1940.
Last but not least, we are delighted to announce that the Finnish National Gallery’s successful research intern programme is continuing in 2021. Two research interns have been selected to work for a three-month period to investigate their chosen areas of the Finnish National Gallery’s collections. By investing annually in the programme we wish to encourage interest in our collections and support students who choose to study subjects based on physical collections and objects, archive material and data. During the past four years, this format of interaction between experienced museum professionals and masters-level students has created a bridge between museums and academia in a most fruitful and gratifying way.
Featured image: Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, Portrait of Sigrid af Forselles, 1902, oil on hardboard, 37cm x 35cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen
Read more — Download FNG Research No. 1/2021 as a PDF