Kunsthalle Helsinki: Private collection on show in seminal Aalto exhibition
By Ester Laiho | Photos: Anssi Vaarola
100 stools, sun loungers and iconic glassware: the Aino and Alvar Aalto exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki promises to display a rare mix of the couple’s works.
This September, Kunsthalle Helsinki will launch Aallot – an exhibition of works by Aino and Alvar Aalto, as seen through the eyes of a collector. The unique selection will feature never-seen-before prototypes and other true collector’s items.
For Aallot, curator Eeva Holkeri had the unique opportunity to pick items from the world’s largest private collection of Aalto artefacts. The collector, Pertti Männistö, started collecting Aalto items in the early 1990s and owns over 1,000 Aalto objects.
Holkeri and her team had the difficult job of whittling down this enormous cache to some 400 Aalto items, to fit the 550 square-metre exhibition space at Kunsthalle Helsinki. Inside the purpose-built gallery, extra care is taken to utilise the building’s big windows for their natural light to accentuate display works.
Aalto in a new light
Holkeri is most excited about a rattan sun lounger made by Aino Marsio-Aalto: “I love the chair since it comes out of left field in the context of how people expect an Aalto item to look.”
Holkeri felt the need to have objects specifically from Aino, as Alvar is so often the one remembered and credited. “When it comes to the couple’s architecture, Alvar is often named as the creator. Luckily, when it comes to their artefacts, it is quite easy to tell who made it, since they had their own styles. We have taken extra care to make sure we have a good selection of Aino’s works on display,” she reveals.
The exhibition opens on 10 September and will run until 23 October. During this time, visitors can see how the pair’s design developed through the years, from experimenting with bending wood for the famous Stool 60, to the evolution of the armchair.
One of the chairs on display is the Paimio Armchair that Alvar Aalto invented in 1931, while he was designing the Paimio Sanatorium with Aino. Some of the chairs can still be seen in their original places at the Sanatorium, whilst some will now be exhibited at Kunsthalle Helsinki.
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