Independent Visions: Helene Schjerfbeck and Her Contemporaries, from the Collection of Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery, an exhibition presenting fifty-five works by four celebrated Finnish artists, is on view now at the Scandinavia House gallery. The exhibition highlights the pioneering role of these artists at the end of the 19th century and in the early decades of the 20th century: Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946), Sigrid Schauman (1877–1979), Ellen Thesleff (1869–1954), and Elga Sesemann (1922–2007). Coinciding with the year-long celebration of the centennial anniversary of Finland’s independence from Russia, the exhibition provides a rich opportunity for American audiences to engage with these influential Finnish painters.
The exhibition is curated by Anu Utriainen, curator of collections at Ateneum and Dr. Susanna Pettersson, director of Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery. On view through October 7, 2017, the exhibition will be accompanied by a range of public programs for all ages and a new catalogue.
Drawn from Ateneum’s extensive collection, Independent Visions features Schjerfbeck’s complex self-portraits, Thesleff’s colorful woodcuts, Schauman’s lush and delicate landscapes, and Sesemann’s brooding Expressionist portraits. Sharing the experience of traveling and studying in France and Italy while maintaining strong attachments to their home country of Finland, these artists and their work reveal the excitement and turbulence of the modern period that generated a newly found independence—both cultural and personal.
—Image: Helene Schjerfbeck, Red Apples, 1915 (Detail). Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery