Sculpture of Finland
that I coincidentally found while browsing an art magazine,
but I think it helps explain the Finnish phenomenon,
discussed here by Kenneth Rexroth.
(BTW -- Gallen-Kallela is best known for his later illustrations of the Finnish national epic -- but I find this early figure to be much more compelling)
Heikki Konttinen (1910-1989)
There's something ancient, mysterious, dreamy about them,
so as they abstract away from natural forms
they have someplace to go
(unlike the American figure-abstract sculpture of the 50's)
Pulling its energy inside
(like someone living in an arctic winter)
It all reminds me of Eskimo sculpture,
if only the Inuit had developed a modern European state.
Waino Aaltonen (1894-1966)
This is not just a man,
it's a Finnish man,
and that's what figure sculpture can do -
present a way of being a man in a particular time and place
Pekka Kontio (1933-1976)
..or a woman
... or a child
Here's another figure by RAILI MIKKONEN (born 1927),
the renegade school teacher mentioned in the last post.
The design gives this feeling of self sufficiency,
that Finnish women seem to have even when naked
It seems that the Finns feel Germanic when they're feeling scholarly
Waino Aaltonen (1894-1966)
But here's a sweet tenderness --
that I don't recall seeing in German sculpture.
And to follow Rexroth's lead,
maybe we could call this work ecological:
The child grows from the mother's arm,
as the mother (like a tree) grows from the earth
Aimo Tukiainen ,1951 (1917-1996)
Not a posture that I remember from anywhere else,
like a crouching animal (and not especially one who's about to mate)
And like the rest of this school of sculpture -- the figure feels natural,
but it lacks anatomical details --
as it delivers an overall impact of profile in space.
Essi Renvall (1945) (1911-1979)
These are figures that are meant to stand among trees.
(and Essi was the mentor of the Renni the school marm)
Gunnar Finne (1886-1952)
Kind of erotic -- and kind of not
(since it's always dangerous to mate with forest spirits)
Just like a fine piece of Italian sculpture from that period,
and it's not too surprising that this sculptor soon
adopted the next Euro-trend of abstract expression.
Which reminds us --
that most of the sculptors shown above were born in the early 20th C.
--and after 1960, the Finnish artworld followed the rest of Europe
into a more international contemporary art.
Here's a sculptor from more recent times that interests me -- but it looks like contemporary Finland could be indistinguishable from contemporary museums around the world.
And the artists I've shown above are very difficult to find outside of Finland. (most can be found in books in Worldcat -- but only from the National Library of Helsinki) -- while as you've seen -- big, luscious pictures are scarce.
Is modern culture succeeding where centuries of Swedish and Russian domination have failed ?
(note: more pictures can be found here )