Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Taidesalonki Centenary 2: Sinebrychoff Art Museum (an exhibition)

Gunnar Berndtson: Laskiaistiistai / Mardi Gras. Private collection. Please do click to enlarge the images!

Helene Schjerfbeck
Kehtolaulu / Vaggvisan / Wiegenlied / Lullaby
Lauri ja Lasse Reitzin säätiön kokoelmat

Albert Edelfelt
Nainen parvekkeella, luonnos, n. 1880-1884
Damen på balkongen, skiss, ca. 1880-1884
Lady on a Balcony, sketch, c. 1880-1884
Gunnar Berndtson
Lohenpyynti / Laxfiske / Salmon Fishing
Lauri ja Lasse Reitzin säätiön kokoelmat
Lauri och Lasse Reitz stiftelses samlingar
Taidesalonki 100 vuotta / Konstsalongen 100 år. 8.10.2015 - 10.1.2016. Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Bulevardi 40, 00120 Helsinki. www.siff.fi

From the official introduction: Besides young modernists Taidesalonki displayed works of the masters from the 19th century. It also had an antique shop which was connected to the scientific research conducted by Leonard Bäcksbacka. Taidesalonki had also its own publishing branch which covered not only the exhibition catalogs but also Bäcksbacka's research publications.

While contemporary art was the main interest of Leonard Bäcksbacka he also always showed works from the artists of the golden age. Artists particularly important for him were Gunnar Berndtson, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, and Hugo Simberg. During his lifetime Bäcksbacka made sizable donations to art museums such as Ateneum and Nationalmuseum (Stockholm). The most significant donation was the collection of 448 works donated by his estate to the city of Helsinki.

Bäcksbacka acquired art and antiquities also during his trips abroad. Since the 1920s he was interested in Spanish and Islamic culture. At his home he had Spanish and Moorish luster china and Persian china from the 14th-17th centuries. Istanbul Bäcksbacka visited several times and brought with him Persian miniatures.

The Taidesalonki logo, still in use, was designed by the artist Maria Lagorio (1893-1979). Having spent her youth in St. Petersburg she emigrated after the Revolution via Finland where she stayed in 1918-1921. Her first solo exhibition was held at Taidesalonki in October 1919.

AA: Of the three Taidesalonki centenary exhibitions the main one at HAM, Helsinki Art Museum, covers contemporary art during the three generations of the Bäcksbacka family who have run Taidesalonki.

In the atmospheric 19th century premises of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum are displayed previous generations of the young Finnish art tradition. Again there is space for multiple works of key artists, this time including Gunnar Berndtson, Albert Edelfelt, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Hugo Simberg, and Helene Schjerfbeck. Even earlier artists are included, such as Nils Schillmark, Ferdinand von Wright, and Werner Holmberg. The selections include works from private collections that are rarely displayed in public.

This time especially memorable are some unfinished works such as Holmberg's A Park in Early Spring (1860) and Edelfelt's A Lady at the Balcony (1884). Also Edelfelt's A Winter View of Kaivopuisto (1895) has an appealing not-too-finished quality.

There are also selected antique objects, silverware, china, and art glass, plus rare books and special items from Leonard Bäcksbacka's personal legacy, and a corridor devoted to Maria Lagorio in Finland.

An entire room is dedicated to refined Persian miniatures to which there is an interesting introduction by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila in the centenary catalogue. It is fascinating to observe psychological nuance combined with Mongolian influences and a realistic talent co-existing with radical stylization.

The display, the hanging, the backgrounds, and the lighting are of high quality.

A perfect way to bring the visit to a finish is to digest it all at the Southpark Restaurant next door, facing the Sinebrychoff Park. It is a successor to Café Fanny since spring.

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