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Aino Aalto in Paimio chair, photo montage, 1930s. © Alvar Aalto Foundation, Artek Collection of the Alvar Aalto Museum.

Germany’s Vitra Design Museum is collaborating with Finland’s Alvar Aalto Museum and Ateneum Art Museum and producing an exhibition entitled Alvar Aalto – Art and the Modern Form which opens a window on the life and work of Alvar Aalto (1898–1976), the most internationally famous Finnish architect and designer.

This retrospective exhibition paints a fascinating picture of the period from the 1920s to the 1970s, when Aalto’s groundbreaking modern architecture and design were developing in interaction with contemporary visual artists numbered among Aino and Alvar Aalto’s personal friends, including French painter, sculptor and film-maker Fernand Léger, American sculptor Alexander Calder and Hungarian painter, designer and photographer Lazlo Moholy-Nagy.

Husband and wife architects Aino and Alvar Aalto shared the view that architecture and design should take the form of a complete work of art. They may well have had individual one-off buildings on the drawing board at the same time as master plans for whole cities or districts, designs for the interiors of specific buildings, furniture that was going into series production, or indeed glassware. This total mobility between different genres was crystallised in the foundation of Artek in 1935, together with Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. The activities of this innovative and courageous firm included marketing the furniture designed by Aalto and organising art exhibitions from the 1930s to the 1990s.

“It has been fascinating to put together an exhibition which focuses on the Central European aspect of Aalto’s architecture and on the importance of a single figurehead for the International Modern Movement in the field of architecture and design,” says Katariina Pakoma, Chief Curator of the Alvar Aalto Museum. “Besides the Alvar Aalto architecture and design that is most familiar to the general public, there will also be gems from the drawings archive on display. An abundant selection of original sketches and drawings have been chosen for the exhibition from the collections of the Alvar Aalto Museum.”

In the exhibition that will be on show at the Ateneum from 11.5.2017 to 24.9.2017, there will be objects and pieces of furniture designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto, as well as architectural drawings and scale models which will be highlighted through archive materials, photographs and short films. Also on display will be works by Aalto’s closest artist friends and a selection of works that the Ateneum Art Museum has acquired for its collections from the art exhibitions organised by Artek. The exhibition will also feature new architectural photographs, taken by the German photographic artist Armin Linke.

The exhibition has been curated by Chief Curator Jochen Eisenbrand from the Vitra Design Museum. The exhibition will coincide with the release of a publication produced by the Ateneum in Finnish, Swedish and English.

The exhibition has been shown before, in Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, and at Aalborg in Denmark.

Read more from the press release.

Alvar Aalto – Art and the Modern Form exhibition is a part of the programme for the centenary of Finland’s independence.

Alvar Aalto – Art and the Modern Form 11.5.–24.9.2017
Ateneum Art Museum
Kaivokatu 2, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

More information:
Alvar Aalto Museum
Chief Curator Katariina Pakoma
Tel. +358 (0)400 849 315