Art in the Service of the Nation — Or why did Birger Carlstedt reject abstraction in early 1930s?
Performative lecture, The Schoooooool With Many Holes, Amos Rex Museum Helsinki, curated by Ofri Cnaan.
This art history lecture is a performative intervention that took place in the exhibition rooms of the Birger Carlstedt exhibition. The topic of the lecture derives from the fact that in early 1930s Carlstedt was strongly discouraged from pursuing with abstract paintings. The main art critics in Finland, Onni Okkonen, Ludvig Wennervirta and Edvard Richter accused him of mimicking international art trends, and ignoring what Finland had to offer in terms of subject matter for artists. In the critics’ opinion artists in Finland should draw themes from the Finnish nature and paint with the colour palette found there, instead of copying, in bright colours, influences from Russian constructivism and De Stijl in the Netherlands. Only in 1950 Carlstedt went back to the language of abstraction, and this time he was allowed to stay there.
This lecture-performance is about art caught in between demands for nationalism and strives for internationalism. It is an invitation to take a critical look at how the history of art is being taught, in relation to the history of a nation.
Held (mostly) in Finnish.
Download here: script of the lecture in English