Akseli Gallen-Kallela as a Mentor

12.2.2022 - 4.9.2021

Hugo Simberg's etching of Gallen-Kallela (1897) from the Gallen-Kallela Museum's collections.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela was not a traditional art teacher, the reason why he was chosen by young artists in opposition to the academic education available in Finland. The best education he gave was to train by practicing.

The exhibition will show the duty Akseli Gallen-Kallela took over himself to mentor young artists, following Albert Edelfelt’s footsteps. How he became a role model for a group of rebellious artists around Wilho Sjöström in 1893; how Kalela offered him additional possibilities to accept young talents such as Hugo Simberg, Eric Ehrström, Carl Bengts, and Alpo Sailo in 1895-1900; how he enjoyed sharing his discoveries in Italy in 1898 with Beda Stjernschantz. A positive comment and encouragements were decisive for Eero Nelimarkka, Ester Kumlin, and Martta Wendelin.

Exhibition is based on curator Laura Gutman’s new research about Gallen-Kallela. Thanks to various memories, to the gathering of sketches, paintings, and sculptures by famous and forgotten artist students, a novel and modern perspective on Akseli Gallen-Kallela appears. That of a mentor, of a respectful and challenging master for several generations of artists in Finland.