Finland Arts and Architecture

By | December 17, 2021

Only between 12th and 13th century. a national art developed, with a rough and severe imprint (fortified castles of Turku and Viipuri). The medieval churches, mostly of Romanesque-Gothic style, generally have a rustic character and a massive structure; the 13th century Turku cathedral comes close to German and French Gothic examples. National and Swedish painters are responsible for monumental decorative frescoes in these buildings, while the sculptures are largely imported (from Sweden, Antwerp, Lübeck). The Reformation interrupted the development of a Finnish art, eliminating the patronage of the Church, still in the absence of that of the aristocracy. In the 17th century. numerous large castles were built, while sculpture (especially funerary) and sacred decorative painting, popularly oriented, which had its center in eastern Bothnia, began to flourish again. The foundation (1846) of the Finnish Art Association was of great importance, on the initiative of which the first art schools and the first museum, the Ateneum of Helsinki, were built. In the first half of the 19th century. a renewal in architectural activity took place with the neoclassical JKL Engel, author of the Helsinki master plan. For Finland 2006, please check

After the eclecticism of the end of the 19th century, at the beginning of the 20th century, romantic-national currents, inspired by medieval architecture, established themselves, which in part removed the Finland from the influence of the floral style, but offered modern spatial solutions and unconventional. The architects H. Gesellius, A. Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen were the protagonists (house built with tree trunks in Hvitträsk, 1902), together with L. Sonck (Tampere cathedral, 1902-07). However, S. Lindquist, O. Tarjanne, U. Nyström adhered to the floral style. True rationalism began with S. Frosterus, a pupil of HC van de Velde, and G. Strengell. The Helsinki decentralization plan by Saarinen (1918) was very noteworthy. A classicist reaction followed (Helsinki parliament, 1931, by JS Siren). At the end of the second twenty years, the work of A. Aalto and E. Bryggman (exhibitions in Turku, Stockholm), E. Huttunen and Y. Lindegren marked the emergence of rationalist architecture. Aalto then became the dominant personality, who imposed himself beyond national borders. In the general assimilation of Aalto’s fundamental lesson, the architectural practice remained of a constant high level but with a recognizable trend towards a new ‘National Romanticism’. Among the major architects of the period must be remembered A. Ervi, K. e H. Sirén, J. Järvi, VG Revell, R. Pietila, A. Rúusuvuori and T. Pentilä. Since the 1990s, J. Leiviskä has been the main continuer of Finnish architecture of an organic-expressionist matrix. Alongside the school headed by Aalto’s teachings, a generation of architects established themselves during the 1980s and 1990s who developed a language aligned with the main international trends: among these M. Heikkinen and M. Komonen have achieved international fame with an architecture inspired by industry, land art and conceptual art. Among others, we remember P. Helin and T. Siitonen, R. Mahlamäki, A. Berger and T. Parkkinen.

Towards the end of the 19th century. the national romantic movement also influenced many painters, the most significant of which was A. Gallén-Kallela. Related to symbolism were KM Enckell, H. Simberg, JV Rissanen. With the Septem group, which exhibited for the first time in 1912 and which had among its members Enckell, Rissanen, E. Thesleff, H. Schjerfbeck, the pictorial research was influenced by post-impressionism, a premise for opening towards new pictorial expressions and training of the November Group (1917) with T. Sallinen, G. Collin, FA Cawén, K. Ekelund, exponents of Finnish expressionism. Between the two wars, the first experiences in the field of abstract art were represented by P. Linden and BJ Carlstedt; towards the end of the 1930s O. Makila was one of the greatest exponents of surrealism. In the field of sculpture the most important personality was that of W. Aaltonen. From the second post-war period until the 1960s, Finnish art continued the experiences proposed in the October Group, formed in 1933 but active above all in the 1940s and 1950s. A. Kanerva, one of its most representative exponents, in fact exercised a decisive influence on younger painters, especially through his landscapes linked to the expressionist line of painting by Sallinen and the old November Group. At the same time, a constructivist tendency has developed since the 1950s with the Prisma group (1955), founded by S. Vanni, but which welcomed personalities such as V. Pusa and the veteran K. Ekelund, and an abstract tendency with freer forms, soft and sentimental, as in the paintings of E. Granfelt, P. Stenius and A. Lucander. At the beginning of the 1960s the interest in the possibilities offered by the adoption of new materials and new techniques was represented by S. Hannula and L. Pullinen. The maturation and overcoming of the informal experience has led artists like K. Kaivanto to a rigorous spatial research; A. Lavonen to deepen the compositional and spatial problems in sculptures of geometric simplicity and in material-informal paintings enriched by a search for kinetic rhythms. The link with the ancient artisan tradition is documented by the wooden works of M. Hartman, by the large abstract sculptures in black granite by H. Kivijarvi, by the great compositions of environments by O. Lanu. The contribution given in the field of design by T. Sarpaneva e T. Wirkkala, also authors of sculptures.

In the plurality of expressive languages ​​typical of the last decades of the 20th century, the artistic research in Finland has kept constant the interest in nature, the care of materials (wood, granite), the link with the fairytale tradition and with that modernist, the latter particularly evident in monumental sculpture. The usual commitment to public contracts has allowed the creation of monumental works by notable sculptors, such as E. Ruutsalo, R. Utrianen and K. Tapper, among the most interesting Finnish artists; the younger M. Peltokangas and M. Aiha. K. Kaivanto, after a period in which the ecological and anti-war commitment found forms close to the nouveau realism, returned to a figurativeness mixed with elements of pure pictoriality. Among others, H. Väisänen, who illustrated the edition of Kalevala for the 150th anniversary of publication (1999); K. Cavén, a painter who then turned to three-dimensionality, combining recycled materials with elements linked to personal or collective memory; B. Aho, with installations, performances and videos that address the theme of communication. Among the artists who have established themselves since the 1980s: K. Kaikkonen, known for her installations with recycled materials; N. Roos, author of lights and planes painted on Plexiglas; E.-L. Ahtila, author of videos and video installations; H. Hiltunen, with works that combine painting and photography; H. Hietanen, with installations in which traditional craftsmanship techniques and materials are combined with modern technologies (optical fibers, projectors, wood, glass, steel, etc.).

Finland Arts