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Exhibition of Finnish art and design collected by HAM to tour Japan in 2020–2022

23.10.2020 8:40

Finnish Design for Everyday Life - Patterns and Forms Inspired by Nature / Photo: Tsutomu Miura / Tottori Prefectural Museum

The Finnish Design for Everyday Life – Patterns and Forms Inspired by Nature exhibition produced and curated by HAM Helsinki Art Museum will tour four museums in Japan in 2020–2022. The exhibition is partly based on the Modern Life! – Finnish Modernism and the International Dimension exhibition that celebrated Finland’s 100th anniversary year and was exhibited at HAM in Tennispalatsi in 2017. Finnish Design for Everyday Life – Patterns and Forms Inspired by Nature was opened in the Tottori Prefectural Museum on 10 October 2020. For the summer season 2021, the exhibition will be moved to Kitakyushu Municipal Museum ofArt, Fukuoka, and then to the Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo for autumn 2021. The exhibition will end its tour at Bunkamura in Tokyo in January 2022. The exhibition tour is organised by HAM in collaboration with the Japanese NHK Promotions Inc.

The basis for the friendship between Japan and Finland was laid down more than a hundred years ago. Despite the differences between our cultures, both countries found common ground in their respect for nature’s diversity, functional aesthetics and high-quality design. Over the decades, the Finnish classics – Moomins, Santa Claus and Marimekko – have also found their way into the hearts of the Japanese people.

The legacy of modernism is still strongly present in the day-to-day lives of Finns. The exhibition now touring Japan showcases this history, design and art of modernism from the 1930s to the 1970s. The exhibition sheds a light on the evolution of Finnish design into a well-known phenomena while also offering glimpses into the Helsinki of artists and designers, where Tove Jansson, amongst others, left her mark with her commissioned works and art pieces. The success stories of the Finnish art industry at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 and in the Milan Triennials in the 1950s also have their moments in the spotlight. The exhibition also presents the Finnish textile industry to the Japanese audience, showcasing the successful histories of Marimekko and the Finlayson and Tampella factories.

Nature is still very much present in the Finnish way of life and the day-to-day life. The exhibition studies how various flora and fauna, the different seasons and natural phenomena have inspired artists, photographers, architects and designers. Their experiences of nature manifest in their art, the unique items of the art industry as well as in industrial serial production. The diversity and organicity of nature are reflected on the pieces and works of the exhibition; the posters, photographs, glass and ceramics art, fashion photos and advertisements, textiles, furniture, dishes, paintings and drawings.

The exhibition contains about 300 art works and items from nearly 40 different Finnish artists and designers. In addition to Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva, Kaj Franck, Michael Schilkin and Birger Kaipiainen, the exhibition showcases a group of influential women designers, such as Aino Aalto, Dora Jung, Eva Taimi, Eva Anttila, Saara Hopea, Gunnel Nyman, Helena Tynell, Nanny Still, Uhra-Beata Simberg-Ehrström, Rut Bryk, Toini Muona, Kyllikki Salmenhaara and Marjatta Metsovaara, who all deserve international attention also during these modern times.

In addition to the collections of the HAM Helsinki Art Museum, items and works in the exhibition have been borrowed from the following collections: The Alvar Aalto Museum/Alvar Aalto Foundation, Design Museum, Helsinki City Museum, Kakkonen Collection, Moomin Characters Ltd, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Vapriikki and private collections.

The exhibition has been curated by HAM curator Heli Harni, with Harri Kalha, PhD, serving as an expert.

Finnish Design for Everyday Life – Patterns and Forms Inspired by Nature
Tottori Prefectural Museum, Tottori 10 October 2020–15 November 2020
Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Fukuoka 25 June 2021–29 August 2021
The Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo 11 September 2021−28 November 2021
Bunkamura, Tokyo 7 December 2021–30 January 2022