The SCHIRN presents the most impor­tant Finnish artist of the first half of the twen­tieth century – Helene Schjerf­beck – in a solo exhi­bi­tion.


In the fall and winter of 2014, the SCHIRN will present the most important Finnish artist of the first half of the twentieth century – Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) – in a solo exhibition. Schjerfbeck’s works bear witness to impressive intensity. While her painterly oeuvre attracts a great deal of attention in Scandinavia, she is largely unknown abroad. The exhibition will concentrate on aspects of motif repetition and the manner of employing visual sources that permeates Schjerfbeck’s entire body of work and comes to bear in realistically painted works of the end of the nineteenth century as well as those of her late phase characterized by an abstract and simplified formal language.

Within this context, the striking self-portraits the artist produced from the 1880s until her death in 1946 play a pivotal role, as do the works in which she re-uses her own motifs or appropriates those she finds in prominent works by other artists such as El Greco or Hans Holbein. Organized in collaboration with the Ateneum, Finland’s national art museum, the show will assemble more than eighty works from that museum’s holdings as well as from numerous other public and private collections.


Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) is Finland’s most prominent female artist. Her work is of epoch-making significance. Recognition for Schjerfbeck’s portraiture is ubiquitous throughout Scandinavia – with her likeness even reproduced on the obverse side of the Finnish two-euro coin. The artist is honoured as a national icon. This monograph presents an overview of Schjerfbeck’s oeuvre from its beginnings in realism in the 1880s to the late, strongly abstract self-portraits of the 1940s.