The Ateneum and the Belvedere museum in Vienna join forces to stage the first show dedicated to Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s art in Austria
The show, which features around 60 works, will open in Vienna, Austria, on 27 September 2024. The exhibition is realised as a joint effort between the Ateneum and the Belvedere, and is curated by Dr Arnika Groenewald-Schmidt, assistant curator at the Belvedere, in cooperation with Anu Utriainen, senior researcher at the Ateneum.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931) was a well-known artist both in Finland and abroad already during his lifetime. Gallen-Kallela’s depictions of Finnish people, myths and nature played a key role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. Numerous exhibition invitations from European art associations and other actors in the 20th century indicate how Gallen-Kallela’s art also appealed to international art audiences and artists, in art hubs and art circles in places such as Paris, Berlin, London and Vienna.
“Gallen-Kallela’s visual idiom is an original combination of different elements and techniques. While concentrating on Finnish motifs he developed his expression in constant exchange with international modern artists. After his time in Paris it was Central Europe that provided him with new stimuli. Gallen-Kallela implemented the transnationally widespread idea of renewing art and artistic style in his own work and participated in a number of exhibitions, including Edvard Munch in Berlin and the Secessions in Germany and Austria”, says Utriainen.
In 1901, Gallen-Kallela made his debut in Vienna at the Secession* participating at an exhibition dedicated to mostly Nordic artists. The Moderne Galerie, today the Belvedere museum, acquired Gallen-Kallela’s painting Spring (c. 1900) from this very exhibition.
Gallen-Kallela was invited back to an exhibition dedicated to ‘monumental’ art, organised by the Secession in Vienna in 1904, where he presented, for example, studies for frescoes he had painted for the Jusélius Mausoleum in Pori, Finland. On this occasion, the artist was welcomed into the circle of Gustav Klimt. In addition to their aim of finding new ways of artistic expression, the artists wanted to bring together fine arts, architecture and design to create ‘total works of art’.
“Cooperating with the Secessionists was important to Gallen-Kallela, and it left its mark on his art”, says Utriainen. “In turn, Secession artists who shared Gallen-Kallela’s aim of wanting to reform art and artistic expression admired his works.”
“The Vienna Secession was a place where new styles and ideas were presented and discussed in order to stimulate new approaches to art. In this context Akseli Gallen-Kallela was invited as one of the representatives of modern art. It will be exciting for our audience to discover this prolific artist and to explore his renderings of Finnish people, myths and landscapes which are national and international at the same time,” says Groenewald-Schmidt.
The Ateneum Art Museum is part of the Finnish National Gallery. One of its key tasks is to make works in its collections available to new audiences. Over the past decades, there has been a strong focus on cooperation, and the Ateneum’s international exhibition activities have become an increasingly visible and significant part of Finland’s cultural exports.
The exhibition will be on display at the Orangery of the Lower Belvedere, Vienna, from 27 September 2024 until 2 February 2025. It features paintings, prints and furniture. The Ateneum Art Museum has received support from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation for the preparation of the exhibition project with the Belvedere.
*The Secessions were artist groups who revolted against academic artist associations in the late 19th century and who sought to break away from the prevailing traditional styles. The best known of these groups was the Vienna Secession, whose members included, for example, Gustav Klimt.
Opening hours: Tue–Fri 10:00–20:30 | Sat, Sun 10:00–17:00 | Mon closed
Admission fees: Normal admission fee €20 | Concessions €12 | Under 18-year-olds free of charge
In 2023, people between the ages of 18 and 24 will be eligible for concession tickets.
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The Finnish National Gallery is the national museum of fine arts. It operates three of Finland’s best-known museums: the Ateneum Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. It also manages the national art collection and its archives, develops Finnish cultural heritage and promotes art to the wider public. www.kansallisgalleria.fi/en
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