Architecture Exhibitions International

Ateneum Art Museum Helsinki

Alvar Aalto
Art And The Modern Form

May 11–Sep 24, 2017
Alvar Aalto in his studio, 1945. © Alvar Aalto Foundation. Photo: Eino Mäkinen / Alvar Aalto Museum

Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) is the most internationally famous Finnish architect and designer. The exhibition opens up new perspectives into Aalto’s life and work. The comprehensive exhibition illustrates how Aalto’s organic design idiom developed in interaction with contemporary visual artists.
Alvar Aalto – Art and the Modern Form exhibition is a part of the programme for the centenary of Finland’s independence.

In addition to presenting Aalto’s extensive oeuvre, works are also featured from his close friends and modernist masters, such as the American Alexander Calder and the Frenchman Fernand Léger. The exhibition also highlights the role of the Artek furniture and design company as a contributor to the Finnish art scene. The exhibition is produced by the Vitra Design Museum, in cooperation with the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Ateneum Art Museum.vAlvar Aalto was one of the most influential figures in international modernism. Aalto was a fully-fledged cosmopolitan with a global network of contacts: he and his wife, the architect Aino Marsio-Aalto (1894–1949), were internationally active, starting in the 1920s. The idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art, was important to Aalto: he worked across multiple disciplines, including architecture, urban planning, design, and art. Assembled by the chief curator of the Vitra Design Museum, Jochen Eisenbrand, the retrospective exhibition presents Aalto’s life and work from the 1920s to the 1970s. The exhibition features a wealth of iconic objects and pieces of furniture, as well as architectural drawings and scale models. Interdisciplinarity in art, and Aalto’s multi-disciplinarity, is highlighted through archive materials, works of art, photographs and short films. The exhibition also features new photographs of Aalto’s architecture, taken by the German photographic artist Armin Linke. The Ateneum brings another perspective to the exhibition with the inclusion of works by Aalto’s closest artist friends, including the German-French Hans Arp (1886–1966), the American Alexander Calder (1898–1976), the Frenchman Fernand Léger (1881–1955) and the Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946). The exhibition features a large number of works from Villa Mairea, a private residence in Noormarkku that Aalto designed for Maire Gullichsen and her husband. Most of the works at the exhibition were introduced to Finland through Artek and people in Aalto’s inner circle.