Ahti and Maija Lavonen – In Harmony

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The main exhibition showing at the Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki during our recent visit was devoted to the works of two Finnish artists, a married couple, Ahti and Maija Lavonen.

The Gallery’s website tells us that

Ahti Lavonen (1928–1970) became one of the leading figures in Finnish painting in the Sixties – a bold experimenter and committed individual who closely followed artistic developments at home and abroad, and who was never afraid to air his opinions in public. His brilliant career came to an abrupt end with his early death in 1970.

The roots of Maija Lavonen’s (1931–) artistic career lay in the traditions of textile art, craftsmanship and a profound understanding of materials. Study, work, exhibiting and commissions formed an integral chain that has extended over six decades. Her choice of materials and techniques is a combination of the old and the new, and always contextually harmonious. Nature provides the prevailing motif in her works.

Ahti, who died relatively young (he was 43) was clearly influenced by a number of his contemporaries elsewhere in Europe and the Americas, and the works on display reflected a number of styles. Here’s a selection.

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Maiji primarily worked in textiles and the exhibition displayed works in the more traditional media and also some more recent works using fibre optics.

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A Visit to the Didrichsen Art Museum

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After arriving in Helsinki late Saturday afternoon, we had a full day on Sunday to explore and do a bit of tourism before my course started on Monday. The weather was rather cold and grey with rain showers so we decided that some indoor rip to activity was the best option. I suggested a visit out to the Didrichsen Art Museum which is a little way out from the city centre on the island of Kuusisaari so we took the metro and bus out and returned via bus and tram. I’d visited during a previous work related trip to Helsinki back in October 2014 when I’d seen an exhibition of works by Edvard Munch.

The museum was originally a private residence owned by enthusiastic Modern Art collectors Marie-Louise and Gunnar Didrichsen. It’s an attractive house in a beautiful setting in the woods by the sea – a Modernist building designed by architect Viljo Revell  in 1958-59 and is . An extension was added six years later to house the owners’ art collection.

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The Museum has an extensive collection of works by 20th Century Finnish artists and works by international artists including Picasso, Kandinsky, Miró, Léger, Moore, Giacometti and Arp.  In addition they have a Pre-Columbian art collection and a collection of Oriental art. There’s also a sculpture garden with works displayed at the front of the house and in the wooded gardens at the back of the house leading down to the sea.

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During our visit the museum had two exhibitions. The main one featured works by two Finnish artists, a married couple, Ahti and Maija Lavonen. One of the rooms in the extension basement was displaying a selection of the main works from the Didrichsen modern collection – The Heart of the Didrichsen Collection. The exhibition is a preview of some of the gems of the nearly 100 works which will be shown at Millesgården in Stockholm during the summer of 2018.

I’ll cover the Ahti and Maija Lavonen exhibition in a separate post but here’s a selection of the works from The Heart of the Didrichsen Collection.

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Upright Interior Form (Flower) by Henry Moore

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Mother and child with wave background II by Henry Moore

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Demeter by Jean Arp

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Nu Debout by Pablo Picasso

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Eglise a Marnau by Wassilly Kadinsky

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a small sculpture by Giacometti

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small reclining figure by Henry Moore

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Curved form with inner form (Anima) by Barbara Hepworth

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The Sandman by Salvador Dali

and the sculpture garden.

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Augustus by Bernard Meadows

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Blueberries by Paula Salmela

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Dialogue by Eero Hiironen

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Watergate by Eero Hiironen

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Crosswork by Mauno Hartman

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Mama Africa by Tilla Kekki

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Mama Europaby Tilla Kekki

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Atom Piece by Henry Moore

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Assemble by Lionel Smit

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Sunflower Field by Eila Hiltunen

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Turbulence by Eila Hiltunen

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Arctic Aphrodite by Laila Pullinen

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Crescendo by Laila Pullinen

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Stele deOfferende by Mario Negri

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The Didrichsen Art Museum

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Time flies and it’s a few months now since I was in Helsiinki. I’m heading back over there in a few weeks so thought it was about time I wrote up my visit to the Didrichsen Art Museum.

The Museum is located on on Kuusisaari island, a 20 minute or so bus ride from the Central Station. It holds temporary exhibitions and has permanent displays of ancient Chinese and pre-Columbian artefacts, although during my visit the indoor rooms were devoted to an exhibition of works by Edvard Munch – The Dance of Life. There’s also a sculpture garden with some excellent works including pieces by  Henry Moore and Bernard Meadows.

The museum was originally a private residence owned by enthusiastic Modern Art collectors Marie-Louise and Gunnar Didrichsen. It’s a Modernist building designed by architect Viljo Revell  in 1958-59. An extension was added six years later to house the owners’ art collection.

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It’s an attractive house in a beautiful setting in the woods by the sea.

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There’s a photo of the inside of the house here (it was too full of people on the day I visited to get a decent shot)

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As a former private residence the Museum is quite small, but they have an excellent collection. Due to the Munch exhibition (which was excellent) I was only able to see the works in the sculpture garden. Here’s some of them.

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Adrift (2013) by Jenni Tieaho – a Viking longship in an appropriate setting

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Atom Piece (1964) by Henry Moore

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Reclining Figure on a Pedestal (1960) by Henry Moore

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Stele del Offerende (1960) by Mario Negri

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Augustus (1962/3) by Bernard Meadows

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Auringonkukkapelto (1975) by Eila Hiltunen

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Mama Europa (2009) by Tilla Kekki

and its companion piece

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Mama Africa (2009) by Tilla Kekki

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Turoulenssi (1996) by Eila Hiltunen

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Arctic Aphrodite (1972) by Laila Pullinen

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Strange Rain Last Night (2008) by Matti Peltokangas

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Crescendo (1982) by Eila Hiltunen