Finland Architecture and Arts


At the end of the 19th century, neo-Gothic became intertwined on the one hand with international Art Nouveau (Lars Sonck, * 1870, † 1956; Josef Stenbäck, * 1852, † 1929, etc.) and, on the other hand, in the studios that artists set up in the Finnish wilderness, with the national romantic blockhouse and stone architecture. Herman Gesellius (* 1874, † 1916), Armas Lindgren (* 1874, † 1929) and E. Saarinen elevated the roughly hewn granite to a symbol of Finnish identity (e.g. Pohjola House in Helsinki, 1900–01). That of E. Saarinen testifies to a more moderate formal language based on the international architecture of the early 20th century designed central station in Helsinki (1910-14). In the second and third decades of the 20th century, more classic features appeared again. The strict international Bauhaus style changed in the designs of A. Aalto (Sanatorium in Paimio, 1929–33; Villa Mairea, 1938–39) and E. Bryggman (Resurrection Chapel in Turku, 1938–41) in the 1930s detailed and individual »humane functionalism«. This tradition continued after the world wars with the rationalism of A. Ervi (center of Tapiola, 1954) and V. Revell and in some places resulted in a strict structuralism or concrete brutalism (Makkaratalo-Kaufzentrum, Helsinki, 1960, by V. Revell; House Merimiehenkatu 32, ibid., 1962, by Aarne Ruusuvuori, * 1925, † 1992). The rationalistic development was interrupted by R. Pietilä’s organic style (Kaleva Church, Tampere, 1966). Taking R. Pietilä as a model, the so-called School of Oulu was formed in the 1980s with its regionalism and contextualism as a counter-movement to modernism. In addition, the modernist tradition continued to develop, sometimes in new directions. Committed to functionalist principles, the Helsinki Opera House was built in 1993 by the architects HKP (Hyvämaki, Karhunen, Parkkinen). Juha Leiviskä (* 1936) designs his buildings with the sculptural properties of light, while Mikko Heikkinen (* 1949) and Markku Komonen (* 1945) work with minimalist and postmodern features. The architects of the younger generation (e.g. Matti Sanaksenaho, * 1966) emphasize the feeling in the architectural experience.

Fine arts

In contrast to modern architecture, no uniform trend emerged within the visual arts in the 20th century. Rather, several artistic directions and groups coexisted. Helsinki was the center of Finnish art life. In 1939 the former drawing school was elevated to the status of the Finnish Art Academy. Groups of national importance also formed in Turku. The drawing school there was still effective. As a counterweight to the French-influenced light and color painting of the group »Septem« founded in 1909 with inter alia. KM Enckell and Verner Thomé (* 1878, † 1953) created the »Novembergruppe« with T. Sallinen, which is closely related to German Expressionism at the top. For a long time, the main trend in sculpture remained classicism, which V. Aaltonen enriched with modernist experiments. The strong public criticism of abstract art delayed the emergence of non-figurative art. was represented by Edwin Lydén (* 1879, † 1956) and in the 1930s by Birger Carlstedt (* 1907, † 1975). The opposition artist group “October” with Sven Grönvall (* 1908, † 1975) and Carl Wilhelms (* 1889, † 1953) stood for an expressive retrospective of the national since 1934. An aestheticizing modernism appeared in the late work of the painter Helene Schjerfbeck in appearance. The »Turku Modernism«, of which Otto Mäkilä (* 1904, † 1955) was the most important representative, stood against the German expressionist and v. a. close to surrealistic painting. In 1956 the group »Prisma« reopened a connection to France. S. Vanni introduced constructivism with sleek forms into Finnish art. In the 1950s, the group “Line and Color” mediated intelligently between Mediterranean art and traditional Finnish art (Tapani Raittila, * 1921, among others). In the early 1960s, abstract art gained in importance in the form of informal painting. Important representatives of the Informel in painting were Ahti Lavonen (* 1928, † 1970) and in the sculpture Kain Tapper (* 1930, † 2004). Trained in tradition, renewed, among other things. Aimo Kanerva (* 1909, † 1991) the landscape painting. Representative painting returned with Pop Art (Harro Koskinen, * 1945) and in the 1970s took a position on social and ecological issues. The experimental installation and conceptual art by Jan-Olof Mallander (* 1944) emerged in a new opposition to established art. Visit for driving in Finland.

In the field of graphics, which has had a permanent place in Finnish art since World War II, v. a. Pentti Kaskipuro (* 1930, † 2010) and Outi Heiskanen (* 1937) attracted attention.

In the 1980s there was an upswing in applied art, performance art and photography, many of which arose outside of established art in action groups (Ö-Gruppe, Muu Ry., Jack Helen Brut, Homo §). The high proportion of women is striking in contemporary art. For example, Maaria Wirkkala (* 1954) addresses sensations in light and space in the field of installation art and Eija-Liisa Ahtila (* 1959) works with documents and their dramatic function in the field of video art. The painter Sirpa Alalääkkölä (* 1964) deals intensively with the postmodern quote, which is used as a comment on Finnish identity.

Applied Arts

Handicrafts and handicrafts gave important impetus to Finnish arts. The design guidelines developed at the end of the 19th century, such as the tendency towards natural materials, clear shapes and simple decor, radiated into the 20th century. Arttu Brummer (* 1891, † 1951) and the Artek company (founded in 1935 by A. Aalto ) influenced in the 1950s on the one hand the nationally interpreted modern Finnish design and on the other hand the international design development. The most important Finnish designers of the second half of the 20th century are A. Aalto, Kaj Franck (* 1911, † 1989), Tapio Wirkkala (* 1915, † 1985) and T. Sarpaneva and Marimekko (founded in 1951), which specializes in textiles, interior decoration and clothing.

Finland Architecture and Arts