In Helsinki, Finland, I visited the Ateneum Art Museum where there was a special exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Helen Schjerfbeck, an important Nordic artist.  The museum’s website has excellent information about the exhibit and the artist, but seeing the original works in the country of her birth was amazing.

Scandinavian women artists were very active in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Americans mostly think of Mary Cassatt as one of the only female artists working at the time, but women like Schjerfbeck and the Danish artist Anna Archer, traveled in Scandinavia and Europe and lived and studied in Paris as well.  They produced bodies of work that uniquely drew upon their experiences as Nordic women. 

 On Viewing the Art of Helene Schjerfbeck in Helsinki


 Finland:  cold dark forests and reindeer.

Abstract music ascends from sea foam.

Dream works of glass and stone designed by

ripples of North wind that inspire,

absent sentiment.  Colors washed by

sun’s edges:  cool grey and sea-glass green.


Portraits :  the artist’s mother – focused

silent pose.  Without models to draw,

self-portraits record development,

influence of the region.  Her hand

draws the trees and their shadows at dusk.


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