Gallen-Kallela, Edelfelt, Vallgren: Finnish artists in Paris

Laura Gutman à HelsinkiLaura Gutman, a French art historian, is one of the finest specialists of Nordic 19th-20th century artists, and of Gallen-Kallela’s work more in particular. To the occasion of a series of three high profile conferences that will take place in October and November (see conference details below), she will focus on some of the most prominent Finnish artists of the turn of the 19th century: Gallen-Kallela, Edelfelt and Vallgren and their artistic and cultural ties to Paris.

Louis Pasteur by Albert Edelfelt

Louis Pasteur by Albert Edelfelt

1) Artists from all over the world established in Paris at the turn of the 19th century – we all know of Picasso’s choice for this culturally boyant city and what it resulted in. What was the influence of Gallen-Kallela, Edelfelt and Vallgren’s stay in Paris on their work?

Some of them spent long periods of their lives there, to the extent that Ville Vallgren’s nickname was “Ville de Paris” (Paris City). In Paris, they discovered and commented the last trends in art, made friends with people from different countries, and sometimes found a market for their works. Securing success in Paris was a clever way to address their home market, and get commissions back in Finland. Albert Edelfelt’s outbreak with his portrait of Pasteur has remained a most envied glory and encouragement for younger artists.

2) The scope you have chosen for this series of conferences is very tiny: the artists’ Parisian address. What can we discover from it?

The Paris local tax archives provide the

Akseli Gallen-Kallela "Boulevard in Paris"

Akseli Gallen-Kallela “Boulevard in Paris”

necessary information related to artists who lived at a specific address at a certain time and it has proven to be the start of the most fascinating research. Edelfelt or Vallgren’s addresses housed artist studios, where they were well acquainted with their artist neighbours. In the case of Gallen-Kallela, his attic room was transferred from one friend to the other one for some years. Artistic cartography is new approach in cultural history, which helps understand the actual immersion of the artists in their environment, and their personal perspective on Paris.

3) what exhibition are you preparing for the moment?

I am working on a couple of exhibitions which will open in Finland and in Sweden in 2015 and 2016, but I cannot reveal their topics yet. Soon I will let you know! All I can say for the moment is that they are related to the cultural transfers between France and the Nordic countries at the turn of the 19th century.

Practical details Finnish artists in Paris conferences at HRSK

Havis Amanda by Ville Vallgren

Havis Amanda by Ville Vallgren

conference 1: 28.10.2014 18:00 : Albert Edelfelt – 147 avenue de Villiers

conference 2: 4.11.2014 18:00 : Akseli Gallen-Kallela – 9, rue Ménessier

conference 3: 11.11.2014 18:00 : Ville Vallgren – 233 bis, rue du Faubourg St Honoré

To register for the Gallen-Kallela, Edelfelt and/or Vallgren conferences please contact

Venue HRSK (Helsingin ranskalais-suomalainen koulu), Raumantie, 4 – Helsinki

Please note:

-> this activity is a fundraiser and all proceeds will go to the financing of the exchange between the HRSK and a school in Monaco

-> the exhibition “Hotel Manta of Helsinki”, an installation by Natzu Nichi, that is organized around Ville Vallgren’s famous “Havis Amanda” runs until 12th October. 2014