Amos Rex

Invitation to press event: Birger Carlstedt exhibition brings legendary café to Amos Rex


Amos Rex will present the life’s work of Birger Carlstedt (1907–1975) in an extensive retrospective exhibition that encompasses the artist’s entire oeuvre, all the way from his abstract experiments of the 1920s to the concretist period beginning in the 1950s. The exhibition includes a reconstruction of the legendary café Le Chat Doré.

Carlstedt designed Finland’s first functionalistic interior to a café that opened on Unioninkatu in 1929. The café, Le Chat Doré, will be reconstructed for the exhibition. Café visitors can experience a moment of indulgence in a prohibition-era setting. “Birger Carlstedt: Le Chat Doré” is based on Amos Rex’s collections. The exhibition is on display during 11 October 2019 – 12 January 2020.

Birger Carlstedt – Modernismin haaste (“The Challenge of Modernism”) will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. The book, available in Finnish and Swedish, has been written by Amos Rex’s experts and art historians from the University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi. It is the first extensive and comprehensive work on Carlstedt’s uncompromising and versatile art as well as his unique personality.

Amos Rex invites the media to a press event for the exhibition Birger Carlstedt: Le Chat Doré and the publication Birger Carlstedt: Modernismin haaste on Wednesday, 9 October at 11 am. – 12 noon. Registration:

Teijamari Jyrkkiö, Head of Exhibitions, Amos Rex
Synnöve Malmström and Tuomas Laulainen, curators of the exhibition, Amos Rex
Susanna Aaltonen, writer of the article on Le Chat Doré, docent, University of Helsinki

Birger Carlstedt (1907–1975)

Birger Carlstedt was a Finnish forerunner in modernism, a pioneer in abstract art and a multitalented dandy who worked with fields such as interior design, design and staging, in addition to painting. He followed and participated in the discussion around art during his time, dared to experiment outside the mainstream and familiarised himself with new artistic movements during his many travels. His art includes expressive and surrealist as well as cubist and concrete expression.

Legendary café featured in the exhibition

Le Chat Doré opened its doors in 1929 – exactly 90 years ago. When he designed the sensational modernistic interior of the café, the Finland-Swedish Birger Carlstedt was a young and aspiring artist. For later generations, Le Chat Doré could only be conveyed through gouache blueprints and photographs. In Finnish art history, the floor painting in the café is still considered one of the first constructivist works of art and the interior one of the first functionalistic subjects. The interior was an embodiment of the Bauhaus movement, a combination of end use and staging elements. It marked the starting point of Carlstedt’s career as a visual artist and, above all, his work later as a theatre set designer during the 1940s and 1950s.

The Russian cabinet of Le Chat Doré has been produced with augmented reality technology. The work consists of a restaurant space reminiscent of a private cabinet suitable for smaller dinner parties. Sketches and photographs depict the café’s coffered ceiling, false window with artificial light and a wall painting à la Carlstedt himself that deviated from the other influences of the modern café interior, especially the abstract floor painting. The cabinet can be accessed through Arilyn, a downloadable and free-of-charge application. The Russian cabinet’s AR application has been produced in collaboration with Arilyn and with the support of Danske Bank.

The exhibition presents Carlstadt’s earliest experimental paintings from the 1930s and 1940s and follows his fascinating journey towards becoming a full-blooded abstract artist. Music was an important component of Carlstedt’s abstract, concretistic paintings as well as his personal life and marriage to concert pianist France Ellegaard.

The exhibition is based on Amos Rex’s collections, which the museum has inherited from Birger Carlstedt and his spouse. Important domestic and foreign loan works have also been included in the exhibition.

Birger Carlstedt: Le Chat Doré
11 October 2019 – 12 January 2020
Amos Rex, Helsinki

Birger Carlstedt: Modernismin haaste (“The Challenge of Modernism”)
Susanna Aaltonen, Rauno Endén, Liisa Kasvio, Tuomas Laulainen, Marie-Sofie Lundström, Synnöve Malmström
Parvs Publishing
Amos Rex
216 pages, 155 images

Press images:


Iia Palovaara, Communications Officer, Amos Rex
+358 (0)50 544 3331,

Timo Riitamaa, Head of Communications and Marketing, Amos Rex
+358 (0)41 529 2620,

Review copies of Birger Carlstedt: Modernismin haaste:
Aino Rajala, Publisher, Parvs Publishing
+358 (0)50 573 8405,


About Amos Rex

Amos Rex
Amos Rex
Mannerheimintie 22-24


Amos Rex is an art museum where the past, present and future meet. The iconic Functionalist Lasipalatsi (glass palace) and the new gallery spaces under its undulating square provide 10 000 sq ft for unique experiences both under- and aboveground and on the silver screen of Bio Rex. Amos Rex’s exhibition programme extends from the newest, often experimental, contemporary art to 20th-century Modernism and ancient cultures. #amosrex

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