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Eino Mäkinen
05.11.2010 - 20.02.2011


Eino Mäkinen - Photographs and films presents a diverse visualist who worked primarily as an ethnographic filmmaker. The art of Eino Mäkinen (1908-1987) does not fit under a single title, however. He is also remembered as the court photographer for Alvar Aalto and a staunch defender of modern art photography. Ateneum is presenting Mäkinen's photographs and films from the 1920s to the 1940s. 

As a photographer in the late 1920s Mäkinen criticised the old tradition of photographing harmonious landscapes. More interested in "writing and drawing with light" he wanted to replace the passive form of duplication with a more dynamic approach. He believed that the effect created by the image was more important than the image itself. Mäkinen drew on everyday life situations for his subjects, such as the tempo and geometry of urban environments.

Eino Mäkinen met the architect Alvar Aalto in the early 1930s. Over time Mäkinen became Aalto's photographer of choice, and he enjoyed almost exclusive rights to photograph the architect's buildings and the furniture and objects that he designed for Artek. Mäkinen also assisted Aalto with the visual design and compilation of his photographs for the world fairs in Paris (1937) and New York (1939).

As a filmmaker Eino Mäkinen is remembered as a precise and esthetically uncompromising documenter of Finnish folk traditions. Between 1936 and 1939 he worked as head of cinematography and managing director at the ethnographic film company Kansatieteellinen Filmi Oy. The films produced by the company, numbering over 30 altogether, captured traditional work methods and skills (such as burning the brushwood and carving out boats) that were already disappearing at the time for successive generations to admire. His most famous films were made together with the folklorist Kustaa Vilkuna.

Eino Mäkinen's films and most of his photographs are stored in the National Audiovisual Archive (KAVA). As a result of co-operation between Mäkinen and special researcher Lauri Tykkyläinen, the collections were given to what was then the National Film Archive to look after.

The exhibition at Ateneum has been produced in co-operation with the National Audiovisual Archive. The curator of the exhibition is photography designer Kai Vase and the exhibition architect is Marja Kanervo.