- About Ateneum
Symbolism was one of the most influential trends in European art in the period 1880-1910. It was characterised by the desire to describe feelings and moods, a passionate pursuit of spirituality and a strong interest in mythologies. Symbolism was not a style, but rather an attitude and vision. It was in part a reaction to industrialisation and materialism that made artists focus on the richness within ourselves rather than on external realities. Visual artists, poets and composers inspired each other, and the interaction between the arts flourished.
Landscapes were an ideal subject for symbolists. The pulsating vitality of the sun, the rage of storms and the mystical twilight are familiar and recognisable experiences for everyone. Nature and its elements served as the raw materials that were shaped by the artists to express a certain state of mind.
From the Finnish perspective, 52 Souls – Symbolist Landscape 1880-1910 is a continuation of the exhibition Illusions of Reality, which presented international naturalism at the Ateneum Art Museum in the first half of 2011. 52 Souls also links Finnish art history with international trends.