Self-portraits and silence – Helene Schjerbeck was one of the most important Finnish modernists

Girl on red Sofa, 1882

My mother, 1902.
Something to be proud of: We Finns have our art history, painters and artist especially from the Golden Age and the beginning of the 20th century.  And there is one female artist who created a special career. I never heard anybody saying she/he wouldn’t like her.

She is Helene Schjerbeck (1862-1946). Now at Turku Art Museum there is a very good exhibition of her art and her career that lasted 70 years.

We can see how her style changed from realistic and historical paintings  to modernism. She was a forerunner at the way to more defined expression . She painted sensitive portraits from people near her and created also deeply compelling self-portraits. In her portraits a young and strong woman changes to an old and fragile woman.

She was very gifted and started the Drawing school in Helsinki already at the age of eleven. She travelled to Paris to continue her studies at the age of 18. Young Schjerbeck was interested in history paintings.

Later one of her fortes was to paint silence. She describes people in a state of deep concentration, for example reading. Many of the models were her relatives.
Self-portrait, 1939.
Her art matured during the first decade of the 20th    century into the style that was to remain its distinguishing mark, a reductive idiom accompanied  by intense use of colour. 

Her earliest known self-portrait was made by a teenage art student, the last drawn by an acclaimed artist at the age of 83.  At the very end the self-portraits are only made by outlines.
The Family Heirloom, 1916.

Convalesent, 1988.
The exhibition will last until 29. January 2017 at the Turku Art Museum, Finland.


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