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 An e.Gallery for Artists Gallen-Kallela, Akseli Valdemar [Finnish, 1865-1931] 

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Gallen-Kallela, Akseli Valdemar [Finnish, 1865-1931]


[ 20th Century Artists | Symbolist Artists ]
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Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931), was a Finnish painter, graphic artist, designer, and architect, his country's most famous artist and a major figure in the Art Nouveau and Symbolist movements. He was born in Pori and studied in Helsinki and then in Paris (1884–9, notably at the Académie Julian). In 1894 he settled at Ruovesi in central Finland, where he designed his own home and studio (1894–5) in a romantic vernacular style, together with its furnishings. He traveled widely, however, and was well-known outside his own country, particularly in Germany (he had a joint exhibition with Munch in Berlin in 1895 and exhibited with Die Brücke in Dresden in 1910). In 1911–13 he built a new home and studio for himself at Tarvaspää near Helsinki (now a museum dedicated to him). Gallen-Kallela was deeply patriotic (he volunteered to fight in the War of Independence against Russia in 1918, even though he was in his 50s) and he was inspired mainly by the landscape and folklore of his country, above all by the Finnish national epic Kalevala (‘Land of Heroes’).

His early work was in the 19th-century naturalistic tradition, but in the 1890s he developed a flatter, more stylized manner, well suited to the depiction of heroic myth, with bold simplifications of form, strong outlines, and vivid — sometimes rather garish — colors. Apart from easel paintings, Gallen-Kallela did a number of murals for public buildings (including the Finnish National Museum, Helsinki, 1928). His work also included book illustrations (notably for an edition of Kalevala, 1922) and designs for stained glass, fabrics, and jewelry. He is regarded not only as his country's greatest painter, but also as the chief figure in the creation of a distinctive Finnish art, and he was given a funeral befitting a national hero. His son Jorma Gallen-Kallela (1898–1939) was also a painter.


  Gallen-Kallela, Akseli Valdemar [Finnish, 1865-1931]

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