The Modern Identity small-scale exhibition presents works acquired for the Ateneum collection between 2016 and 2019. The exhibition includes works by 17 artists, dating from the period between 1908 and 1966. The artists featured include Birger Carlstedt, Ragni Cawén, Eva Cederström, Magnus Enckell, Gunvor Grönvik, Ole Kandelin, Elga Sesemann and Hugo Simberg.
The Fokus exhibition gallery presents concise displays, with selected artists or themes from the Ateneum collection.
The common thread in the works of this exhibition is the quintessentially 20th-century search for the self, a modern identity, which involves a fluctuation between the old and the safe, and the new and uncertain. The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman (1925–2017) has discussed changes in identity with reference to solid and fluid modernity.
In “solid” modernity – the period of industrialisation – we were able to regulate our emotions and identities in relatively predictable circumstances, whereas in “fluid” modernity, identity fluctuates and is fundamentally uncertain. Such fluid modernity did not properly emerge until the end of the 20th century, but even before that, rapid urbanisation and war raised many questions in the minds of artists, challenging the notions of identity. These questions were explored both in pictures of people and in landscapes.
The collection of the Ateneum Art Museum grows every year, either through purchases or donations. The acquisitions made by the museum are defined by an interest in finding works that complement the collection as a whole and that make it more comprehensive for specific periods. The idea is to also introduce new perspectives to the existing perception of the work of well-known artists.
In recent years, the areas of focus in acquisitions have included increasing the number of works by female artists and obtaining works that depict 20th-century urban life in Finland. Acquisitions are also made with future special exhibitions in mind.