Ellen Thesleff (1869–1954) was a radical with a boyish haircut who did what she wanted and lived for her art.
She hated teaching but did it to be able to travel, live abroad and paint. She was one of the first symbolists and expressionists in Finland, and one of the most prominent artists in the Nordic region. Thesleff lived a rich and fascinating life. She was a pioneer in an age when female artists were almost always ignored. She was a cosmopolitan who was spiritually at home in Florence. Although Thesleff was seven years younger than Helene Schjerfbeck, as artists they were considered competitors, often equally matched.
The exhibition is curated by Hanna-Reetta Schreck, an art and cultural historian, and it is based on her Thesleff biography from 2017 Minä maalaan kuin jumala (I Paint Like a God, Teos). The show will highlight Thesleff’s trailblazing and evolving art alongside texts, photographs and archive materials about her life. The HAM collection contains key works from Thesleff’s oeuvre, which are complemented with major pieces from private and public collections.
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