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Bernard Kirschenbaum: The Helsinki Arch, 1983. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. © Photo: Helsinki Art Museum

Helsinki Arch / The Helsinki Arch

Artist Bernard Kirschenbaum

Tamminiementie 6, Meilahti, Helsinki

The work is a good example of Minimalism which became a main trend in art in the 1960s. Minimalism opposed Abstract Expressionism and its theory of art which emphasized spontanious emotions. Minimalists sought to avoid expressiveness and to limit the artist’s presence. The form and material of a work were its subject. Minimalism favoured restrained and unaffected forms and colours.

The problem of Minimalism was that the audience found it often difficult not to connect associations from the external world to the works of art. In order to confine interpretation to form and material artists often named their works as `No title’.

Even the name of Bernard Kirschenbaum’s sculpture, `The Helsinki Arch’, connects it to traditional memorial sculpture. In `The Helsinki Arch’, however, the arch is on its back, proving that old traditions allow for new expressions. The artist has separated the triumphal arch from its historical context of militarist ceremony, turning it into a reference to new associations. The work has been deposited with the City of Helsinki by Temet Oy. It was finished in 1983 and it is made of steel.

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