|Viktor Jansson: A Girl's Head [Tove Jansson], 1920, marble.|
Retretti's main exhibition this year is a continuation to last year's theme, "Women Transcending the Limits of Art: Women Artists in Finland in the 19th Century", both curated to Riitta Konttinen. Riitta Konttinen published her book Taiteilijapareja [Artist Couples] in 1991, and last year, she published a new important work, Modernistipareja [Modernist Couples]. Her research is the basis for the Retretti exhibition.
The exhibition offers an impressive and original approach to the history of Finnish art: the road towards the Golden Age, and the early years of Finnish modernism. The combination of the well-known and little-known is well-balanced.
My favourites are the works of Greta Hällfors-Sipilä and Sulho Sipilä.
The most fascinating continuum is the one from the Signe Hammarsten-Jansson and Viktor Jansson in this exhibition to the separate exhibition of Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä, an artist couple of a next generation.
The couples on display are:
Anna Glad-Holmberg (1834-1909), painter
Werner Holmberg (1830-1860), painter
Werner Holmberg died young but left a legacy of powerful traditional landscape painting. His wife, the Norwegian Anna Glad, was a painter, as well.
Julia Stigzelius-de Cock (1840-1923), painter
César de Cock (1823-1904), painter
The Finn Julia Stigzelius married her teacher, the Belgian César de Cock. They were both skilled landscape and nature painters.
Antoinette Vallgren (1858-1911), sculptor
Ville Vallgren (1855-1940), sculptor
The sculptor Ville Vallgren stayed for a long time at the Montmartre in Paris, where he wed the Swedish engraver and sculptor Antoinette Råström. They inspired each other's work, and when Antoinette died, Ville felt he had lost "his good spirit".
Hilma Westerholm (1864-1952), art student and housewife
Victor Westerholm (1860-1919), painter
Hilma and Victor Westerholm were a "dynamic duo" in everything, but only Victor become a prominent painter and an influential figure in the art world.
Elin Danielson-Gambogi (1861-1919), painter
Raffaello Gambogi (1874-1943), painter
The Finn Elin Danielsson wed the Italian Raffaello Gambogi in Florence. They stayed at Torre del Lago and later at Antignano near Livorno, painting the same subjects. Elin said that work meant for both of them the child they never received. Elin was the one responsible for the affairs of the family, and she conducted extended painting trips to Finland.
Venny Soldan-Brofeldt (1864-1945), painter, drawer
Juhani Aho (1861-1921), author
Juhani Aho (birth name Brofeldt) was the national writer of Finland. The marriage was based on equality, with freedom and space for Venny Soldan-Brofeldt's art.
Eva Mannerheim-Sparre (1870-1957), designer, author
Louis Sparre (1863-1964), painter, graphic artist
The Swedish count Louis Sparre visited Finland invited by Axel Gallén and wed Eva Mannerheim, the sister of Marshal Mannerheim. Both were talented designers and artists. Louis Sparre also directed the first Finnish fiction film, Salaviinanpolttajat [The Moonshiners] (1907).
Hilda Flodin (1877-1958), painter, graphic artist, sculptor
Juho Rissanen (1873-1950), painter
Juho Rissanen came from a worker's family, Hilda Flodin from a wealthy academic background. Their marriage remained short, but both had a fruitful artistic career.
Eva Bremer (1894-1964), painter
Eemu Myntti (1890-1943), painter
Eemu Myntti was a shamanistic painter with an original colour world. Eve Bremer had a similar approach to art, and after Eemu's death she lived as an hermit in the deep forest of Ähtäri.
Meri Genetz (1885-1943), painter
Carl Wargh (1896-1937), painter
Meri Genetz and Carl Wargh were international artists interested in occultism and financially independent.
Lyyli Ollila (1888-1958), painter, critic
Yrjö Ollila (1887-1932), painter
Yrjö Ollila married Lyyli Toikka, and they lived a long time in France. Yrjö Ollila belonged to the modernist Septem group. Lyyli Ollila's paintings are less known, but she was a well-known critic.
Ragni Cawén (1891-1981), painter
Alvar Cawén (1886-1935), painter
Alvar Cawén married Ragni Holmberg, and their atelier home was a favourite meeting place of fellow artists. Alvar Cawén was a prominent artist and an influential figure in the art world. Ragni Cawén was especially active after Alvar's death, starting as a November expressionist and evoluting into a relaxed, colourful direction.
Eva Törnwall-Collin (1896-1982), painter
Marcus Collin (1882-1966), painter
Marcus Collin married his student Eva Törnwall at the Free Academy, and they travelled widely from Karelia to North Africa. Marcus Collin created humoristic paintings of the common people and dark November expressionist visions. Eva Collin created frescoes for theatre buildings.
Signe Hammarsten-Jansson (1882-1970), drawer
Viktor Jansson (1886-1958), sculptor
Victor Jansson was a prominent sculptor, who met Signe Hammarsten in Paris. Their home at the Katajanokka neighbourhood was known as one of the "funniest atelier homes in the world". Signe Hammarsten-Jansson was a caricaturist, illustrator and a postage stamp artist. Of their children, Tove Jansson and Lars Jansson became artists.
Greta Hällfors-Sipilä (1899-1974), painter
Sulho Sipilä (1895-1949), painter, navy officer
Sulho Sipilä and Greta Hällfors got married in 1924 and were inspired by modernism and naivism. They were equally inspired and innovative, central figures of Finnish modern art.