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Tove Jansson
14.03.2014 - 07.09.2014


To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson (1914-2001), Ateneum will host a major centenary exhibition presenting Jansson’s impressive career as an artist, illustrator, political caricaturist, author and creator of the Moomin characters and stories.

Ateneum’s exhibition covers all the periods in Jansson’s productive career, including her surrealistic paintings of the 1930s, modernist art of the 1950s and more abstract works in the 1960s and ‘70s, as well as her satirical anti-war illustrations for the magazine Garm, her monumental paintings for public spaces, and of course her enormously popular and internationally renowned Moomin characters and stories.

Other Finnish museums have been generous in lending works to Ateneum. The exhibition will feature major works from Tampere Art Museum’s considerable Jansson collection, including paintings, drawings and Moomin tableaus, as well as costumes on loan from the Theatre Museum that were used in the Moomin opera that debuted in 1974.The exhibition also includes many previously unseen works from private collections. The curator of the exhibition is Tuula Karjalainen, and the exhibition architecture is by Marjaana Kinnermä.

Tove Jansson had many careers and many faces. As an artist she was not only multifaceted, but also extremely hard working. Most of Jansson’s paintings are landscapes, interiors and still lifes. Favourite themes are the sea and islands, which she depicts in all types of her artistic output. Jansson created art based on her own life, and real events and peoples can be found in her paintings. Portraits and especially self portraits form an interesting category in the artist’s abundant output; her self portraits reflect the freedom and independence that were so vital to the artist.

The Moomins that Tove Jansson created during the war years represent a complete philosophy of life, and they are familiar to children and adults around the world. Although today the Moomins are best known from the Japanese animated films made in the 1980s and ‘90s, Jansson herself brought the Moomin characters to life in books much earlier. In addition to the illustrations and sketches for the Moomin stories, the exhibition will feature around twenty 3D tableaus, most of which Tove Jansson built together with her partner, the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä. The tales and adventures of the extended Moomin family really come to life in these tableaus.

Tove Jansson was also a master of monumental paintings and compositions for large surfaces. She created murals for many public spaces throughout Finland, especially in the 1940s and ‘50s. Jansson adorned many of these narrative paintings with small glimpses of paradise. The main hall of Ateneum will display two large wall paintings originally made for Helsinki City Hall and now housed at the Swedish-language adult education centre Arbis: Party in the City and Party in the Countryside.

The exhibition at Ateneum is part of the official programme of the Tove Jansson centenary year: www.tove100.com

The main partner for the exhibition was Fazer.