Exhibition of Finish modernism in Hermitage

The State Hermitage Museum implements some projects in order to develop the museum, to strengthen the international cultural relations, to encourage the study of the collections of the Hermitage. One of them is “The Hermitage 20/21” which is focused on art of 20th and 21st centuries.

The exhibition «Golden Generation. Modernism in Finnish Architecture and Design» is a part of this project. It has been organized with the partners: Design Museum in Helsinki, the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki, the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä and with the support of the Institute of Finland in St. Petersburg. The exposition is situated in the Central Halls of the General Staff building, which has already recommended itself as a progressive space to get acquainted with the most notable events in the modern culture. The exhibition opened on 14 November 2015 and is available until 31 January 2016.

The exhibition is focused on the unique Finnish architecture with an especial way of development. For a very long time, until the twentieth century the profession of architect had not formally existed in Finland. Also the urban-planning activity was rather modest. Later the course for the architecture had been created by like-minded people of creative professions, who tried to find their own way of development to the national culture and Finnish self-identity. At first the Finnish architecture was influenced by famous European schools and was mostly presented in the restrained National Romanticism. However, the reference point to the Finnish architects had been found in the fundamental and simple concepts of the modern universal architectural language, which had already declared itself. Even with the influence of the Swedish and Italian classicism in the architectural creativity there was a clear search of a rational basis which, as a result, reduced base of classic methods to several generalizing lines.

The technologies of the first machine century influenced on the Finnish architects as a powerful source of inspiration. Everything new that matched to the advanced technologies and progress, was allocated with the properties of an esthetic object. Unfortunately, the building industry wasn’t developed enough to incarnate these tendencies in the construction of dwelling houses, however, public buildings, such as hotels, movie theaters and others, which had been constructed in the 1930th years, became an embodiment of an early modernism.

The aspiration to a functionalism was one of the main lines of the Finnish architecture, however, not less important was also a reverent attitude of Finns to their nature. As a result the Finnish architecture has got some kind of duality: prudence and the emotionality, practical functionality and picturesque approach. The huge attention of “Gold generation” to which refer architects and artists of 30th and 60th of the 20th century, was focused on the national identity and traditions. As a result the Finnish modernism differs in the following phenomenon: despite of the features of style still it has got little introspective stylistics with a large-scale reference point on the local materials and natural features. This duality awarded the Finnish modernism with independence which helps it to exist out of conditions and tendencies.

Thanks to a unique combination of progressive ideas and cautions on the nature and mentality, the futuristic images which were created by architects, are still actual, even 70 years later, and now form “gold” heritage which is respected by the young architects who carefully use the rich experience of the predecessors.

Architecture is not the only topic of the exhibition. Other essential manifestations of the Finnish modernism: furniture, glass, design, etc. are also presented to the attention of the visitors. Interior subjects had also a huge impact on the world industry. For example, futuristic chairs of Eero Aarnio and Ayno Aalto’s glassware. Also it will be possible to participate in an educational lecture hall and get acquainted with the creativity of such masters as Aarne Ervi, Reym Piyetil, Vilyo Revel, Uno Ulberg, Eric Briggman, Eliyel Saarinen, Yuryyo Kukkapuro and others.