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Harry Kivijärvi: East and West / Monument to the memory of president J.K. Paasikivi, 1980. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. © Photo: Helsinki Art Museum / Hanna Kukorelli

Itä ja Länsi / East and West (J. K. Paasikiven muistomerkki / Monument to the memory of president J.K. Paasikivi) .

Artist Harry Kivijärvi

, Helsinki

Juho Kusti Paasikivi (1870-1956) was elected president of the republic in 1946 after C. G. E. Mannerheim’s resignation. Paasikivi was elected for second term in 1950. His remarkable career in politics began already in the early years of the century and he held numerous key posts in the Finnish administration. He was the chairman of Finland’s delegation at the Tarttu peace negotiations in 1920 and played a crucial role in the talks between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939-1940 and 1944.

In addition to politics, Paasikivi made a career in the University of Helsinki and he was also the director of the Kansallis-Osake-Pankki in 1914-1934. Harry Kivijärvi (1931-2010) won the competition on the Paasikivi memorial with his entry `East and West’. The monument was unveiled in 1980 on the 110th anniversary of Paasikivi’s birth. The monument comprises two black granite stones and a pedestal in which Paasikivi’s famous utterance `Acknowledging the truth is the beginning of wisdom’ (“Tosiasioiden tunnustaminen on viisauden alku”) has been inscribed. The sculpture’s height is 5.5 metres and it weighs 40,000 kilos. `East and West’ derives its aesthetic force from the massive stones which have been polished and shaped to give an appearance of lightness.

The Paasikivi memorial became subject to much debate immediately after the winning entry had been selected. It received several nicknames, the most popular of which is probably `Juho Kusti and Alli’, referring to the similarity between the to stocky stone blocks and the appearances of the president and his wife Alli.

The statue talks to you:

The work of art belongs to the collection of HAM Helsinki Art Museum.

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