A private collection forms the basis of a museum

Saastamoinen Foundation’s art collection consists of nearly 3000 works, incorporating Finnish and international art. The collection of Finnish art spans a century, from Modernist painting from the 1910s to photographic and video art made in the 2010s. The collection of international art focuses primarily on 1960s European painting, Italian Arte Povera and contemporary art. These movements have been targeted because they examine everyday life and materials and explore the significance of humanity in the contemporary world.

Saastamoinen Foundation’s art collection began with the private acquisition of works of art from the 1910s, including pieces by the expressionist artists Ilmari Aalto and Tyko Sallinen from the November Group, for the home of an industrial family in Eastern Finland. The need to preserve the collection was a driving force behind Liisa Saastamoinen and Osmo P. Karttunen’s creation of the Saastamoinen Foundation in 1968. Today, the Foundation’s mission includes developing and exhibiting the art collection. The collection was instrumental in the establishment of both Kuopio Art Museum in the 1980s and Espoo Museum of Modern Art at the turn of the millennium. The collection was deposited in the city of Espoo in 1999. The works of art are owned by the Foundation and the collection is now held at EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art.

The art collection comprises more than 2,600 works representing Finnish and international art. The collection of Finnish art was based on works by members of the November Group, an association of expressionist artists in the 1910s. Today, the collection contains works spanning a century, from Modernist paintings from the 1910s to photographic and video art from the 2010s.

The key approach in the collection of contemporary international art springs from the painting tradition representing European 1960s, Italian Arte Povera and contemporary art. These art movements combine an examination of the everyday living environment and everyday materials, through which the artists express the significance of humanity in the contemporary world.

Art collection policies

Contemporary Finnish and international works are high priority for the Foundation’s art collection. Additions to the historical collection are highly selective, and any such work must complement an earlier concept in a significant way. Other acquisition criteria are quality, interest, topicality, relevance to the collection and its focus areas, and links to EMMA’s exhibition activities. 30-50 works are acquired each year. To discover the most recent additions, visit the What’s new page on the Foundation website.

International collection

The international collection was started in the 1990s. The first international work added was Two Times, a sculpture by the British sculptor Antony Gormley. Over the past couple of years, works by a number of significant artists including Tacita Dean, Chantal Joffe, Annette Messager and Sarah Morris have been acquired. Their works are currently on display in the Touch exhibition at EMMA. Touch features about 100 Finnish and 30 international works.

Exhibition Touch

Painting, photography and video

Painting is at the heart of the Foundation’s art collection, but art in all sorts of other media is also acquired. Photographic and multimedia art has been added since the 1990s. The collection of video art includes works by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat and Pilvi Takala.