Inspiration – Iconic Works was collaboration between Nationalmuseum and Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki. How have international contemporary artists been inspired by the classics of European art? And why is it these works, in particular, that have become known around the world? Inspiration – Iconic Works presented art that draws inspiration from iconic masterpieces, created by today’s contemporary artists.
At Ateneum, Helsinki, the exhibition was called Inspiration – Contemporary Art & Classics.
The building blocks of the visual DNA of Western art can be traced back to a number of iconic works, so called signature pieces that have strong relevance in today’s world from the sculptures of antiquity to Mona Lisa and Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker– just to mention some of the examples. Interestingly, the art historical narrative was shaped hand in hand with the collection and display practices of 19th century museums in Europe and these signature pieces play a leading role in the story of art no matter if we look at the earliest art historical publications or the latest versions on the same issue.
Inspiration – Iconic Works told the story of the signature works: what they were, where they emerged and why and how they have influenced the contemporary art scene. Another aspect of the exhibition addressed the significance of the museum buildings, for example through a series of contemporary photographic interpretations by Ola Kolehmainen, a Finnish artist based in Berlin. The museum buildings are also part of the story.
The exhibition featured works by artists such as Marina Abramović, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Nancy Fouts, Mark Karasick, Sara Masüger, Kiki Smith and Yinka Shonibare.
The collections In dialogue with the contemporary art
The exhibition also featured works from a the vast collections of the two museums.
Marina Abramovic, Paul Benney, Patricio Bosich, Glenn Brown, Rob & Nick Carter, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Mat Collishaw, Freddy Fabris, Nancy Fouts, Susanne Gottberg, Stephane Graff, Henry Hudson, Tom Hunter, Henrik Jonsson, Mark Karasick, Rachel Kneebone, Ola Kolehmainen, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, Heikki Marila, Hynek Martinec, Sara Masüger, Alexander Mihaylovich, Jarmo Mäkilä, Cristiano Pintaldi, Marc Quinn, Recycle Group, Andrey Blokhin & Georgy Kuznetsov, Aurora Reinhard, Anna Riwkin, Jenny Saville, Meekyoung Shin, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Kiki Smith, Gavin Turk, Koen Vanmechelen, Nicola Verlato, Hugo Wilson.
This exhibition was originally on show at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in spring 2020, and its main curators are Susanna Pettersson and James Putnam. At the Ateneum Art Museum, the exhibition is curated by the museum director, Marja Sakari, and the chief curator, Sointu Fritze. It was on display at The Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki, June 18 juni–September 20, 2020.
A major publication, edited by Dr. Susanna Pettersson accompanies the exhibition.
More to discover
Audioguide to the exhibition
Films about Inspiration – Iconic Works