Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gallen-Kallela's Portrait Art

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931) was a Finnish artist and nationalist who was deeply involved in the movement for independence from Russia. These activities as well as follow-on work after independence curtailed most of his artistic production in the last 15 or so years of his life. Biographical information can be found here.

Gallen was a talented painter who tried a variety of styles during his active career, and I might get around to featuring those in a later post. For now, I'd like to focus on his portrait and near-portrait work which was more limited in its variety.

His very earliest paintings were traditional, but his student sojourn to Paris exposed him to the modernist ideas that were bubbling up in the wake of Impressionism. Later on, he visited Germany and saw Expressionist works first-hand. Moreover, he hobnobbed with Expressionist and Symbolist painters such as the Norwegian Edvard Munch.

Here is a sampling of Gallen's portraiture.


Boy and Crow - 1884
This isn't really a portrait, yet nevertheless is an astonishing piece of work for a 19-year-old. If you ever find yourself in Helsinki, run, don't walk, to the Ateneum and see for yourself how technically accomplished it is.

Ida Aalberg - actress - 1893
Now we skip to his post-student days.

Symposium - 1894
Pictured left-to-right: Gallen-Kallela, Oskar Merikanto, Robert Kajanus and Jean Sibelius.

Rodolf Rittner - German actor - 1895

Edvard Munch - 1895

Mary Gallen at the Lake of Lintula - 1904
Mary was his wife.

Maxim Gorki - 1906

Eino Leino - Finnish poet - 1917

Kirsti Playing the Cello - 1917
Kirsti was his daughter.

1 comment:

Peter said...

When I first glanced the painting of the boy and the crow I thought it was a photograph. Amazing realism.