BUILDING UP A NATIONAL IDENTITY – THE FINNS’ FOREST RELATIONSHIP AS REFLECTED IN THE ART COLLECTION OF THE UPM-KYMMENE CULTURAL FOUNDATION
The forest has played a leading role in Finnish culture, art and design. In the 19th century, inspired by European ideas, Finns began to trace their origins and seek out their own distinctive culture, which inspired Finnish artists to look for indigenous nature and people, especially from Karelia. Their journey led them to discover a wilderness whose rugged beauty was perfectly suited to become a symbol of Finnish people.
The exhibition focuses on how the gradual increase in economic activity and the social changes it stimulated were depicted in the national art of the 1890s. The aim was to depict Finland not just through its wilderness, but also as a progressive nation: sawmill and factory settings were considered to symbolise the beginning of a time of economic wellbeing. The exhibition is not just a way of familiarising yourself with the art history of Finnish forests, but also the interesting networks that are revealed in the foundation’s art collection, between financial patrons from the business world and artists, for instance, which have influenced the history of art, people and business.
The UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation was established in 2006 and its collection consists of over 700 works of art, including historically significant paintings, graphics, drawings, photographs, sculptures and art textiles. More information on the UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation can be found here: www.upmks.fi