Helene Schjerfbeck, Self-Portrait, Black Background, 1915. Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Conferences: Contemporary Takes on Helene Schjerfbeck

Ateneum Art Museum Research Conference

21 April 2015

A professional seminar, held in the Ateneum Hall, took a deep dive into the research that is being conducted on Helene Schjerfbeck both in Finland and internationally.

The seminar was in English and open for all.

Conference Programme

Helene Schjerfbeck: The Brightest Pearl of the Ateneum’s Collection

Susanna Pettersson, PhD, Museum Director, Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery

Published in Helene Schjerfbeck, Reflections. Edited by Naoki Sato. Tokyo: Kyuryodo Publishing, 2015, 202–205.

Helene Schjerfbeck is one of the most important artists in the Ateneum Art Museum’s collection. Today, her works arouse unreserved admiration the world over. Schjerfbeck is associated with vision, integrity and the notion of blazing one’s own trail. She saw what others were doing but did what she wanted to do – regardless of public response.

However, Schjerfbeck’s position in the European, Nordic or even Finnish art field was not always so self-evident. When she was born in 1862, Finland was a Grand Duchy of Russia. The populace spoke Swedish, Finnish and Russian, while the intelligentsia who had travelled widely in Central Europe also spoke French fluently. Literature, theatre and music blossomed. Yet the situation was different when it came to art. There was not a single public art collection in the country, the number of private art collectors could be counted on the fingers of one hand and the few exhibitions that had been held were relatively modest.

This article focuses on the history of the acquisitions of Schjerfbeck’s works, primarily in regard to the collection of the Finnish Art Society, which formed the basis of the Ateneum Art Museum/Finnish National Gallery collection. One could assume that the acquisitions made for the collection reveal something essential about the expectations surrounding the artist, the artistic concepts of the day and how they changed. Schjerfbeck was recognised early on as a highly gifted artist – so we may well consider how this is reflected in the history of the collection.

Featured image: Helene Schjerfbeck, Self-Portrait, Black Background, 1915. Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Read More — Download ‘Helene Schjerfbeck: The Brightest Pearl of the Ateneum’s Collection’ by Susanna Pettersson as a PDF

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Helene Schjerfbeck: Biography writes the Artist and her Art

Marja-Terttu Kivirinta, PhD, Art Historian, University of Helsinki

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Helene Schjerfbeck and the Darkness in her Paintings: From The Door to Three Pears on a Plate

Lena Holger, Art Historian, Author, Stockholm

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Self-Portraits as Anti-Portraits: The Universalism of Helene Schjerfbeck’s Art

Bettina Gockel, Professor of Art History, Chair, History of Fine Arts, University of Zürich

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Me, Myself and Everyone: Perspectives on Helene Schjerfbeck’s (Self-)Portraits

Annika Landmann, PhD Candidate, Art Historian, University of Hamburg

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Mood, Masks, and Melancholy – On Emotion in the Art of Helene Schjerfbeck

Marie Christine Tams, PhD Candidate, University of the Arts, Berlin

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Art and Fashion: Schjerfbeck’s Modern Women

Marja Lahelma, Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Edinburgh

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Helene Schjerfbeck – Painting the Immaterial and Eternal

Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, PhD, Chief Curator, Ateneum Art Museum

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