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Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson swimming ©Per Olov Jansson

(To the left) Tove Jansson, Abstract Sea, 1963, Oil, 73 x 100cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen and (To the right) Tove Jansson, Family, 1942, Oil, 89 x 116 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Tove Jansson, Mysterious Landscape, c. 1930, Oil on plywood, 61 x 152.5 cm, Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Tove Jansson, Sleeping in the Roots, 1930s, gouache and Indian ink on paper, 22.1 x 26.7 cm, Tampere Art Museum, Moominvalley. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

Tove Jansson, Comic strip Moomin on the Riviera, 1955, British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

Tove Jansson, Smoking Girl (Self-Portrait), 1940, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis. ©Moomin Characters

Tove Jansson, Lynx Boa (Self-Portrait), 1974, Oil, 73 x 60.5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

Tove Jansson, Self-Portrait, 1975, Oil, 65 x 47 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

(To the left) Sketch of Adolf Hitler depicted as a crying baby and surrounded by several European leaders trying to calm him by giving him slices of cake. ( Tove Jansson, Garm N:o 10, 1938, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen.) (To the right) Tove Jansson, Cover illustration for the magazine Garm, 1944, Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis. ©Moomin Characters.

Tove Jansson, Illustration for the book Moominland Midwinter, c. 1956, scrape drawing on cardboard, 13 x 18,5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Tove Jansson in her studio ©Per Olov Jansson

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News 07 Jul 2017

CQ explores the life and work of Tove Jansson and who she really was.

Creator of the Moomin characters, Tove Jansson is the most celebrated artist of the 20th century. In an attempt to move beyond the Moomins and display her other significant works, the Dulwich Picture Gallery will showcase unseen works of Jansson this Autumn, 2017.

Tove Jansson, a Finnish writer and an extraordinary artist is one legend we’re honored to be writing about. Famously recognized for the Moomins, blobby animated characters she brought to life and who grew to fame much more than the artist herself, are believed to be a part of the former Finnish president Halonen’s wristwatch and the tail fins of the Finnish airplane. Albeit Jansson’s career does not stop at the creation of the Moomins alone; we’re talking about one talented artist who has left much more for us to ponder over.

Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson swimming ©Per Olov Jansson

An exhibition set by the Dulwich Picture Gallery is curated by Chief Curator, Sointu Fritze and the Ateneum Art Museum, the exhibition will showcase 150 works of the artist and will be organised in collaboration with the Ateneum Museum.

Most of Tove’s work did not make its way out of the very country she lived in, namely Finland. This exhibition will therefore display works that has never had a chance to be showcased before. A few include her self-portraits, still-lifes, landscapes and Moomin sketches.

Tracing back the pivotal stages of Tove Jansson’s career, the show will reintroduce her through her abstract works from the 60s, surreal paintings from the 30s, book-jacket designs and anti-war cartoons, as well as the original cut-outs of the Moomin cartoon strips from the London Evening newspapers that were glued to sheets of paper and collected between the years 1954-58. Interestingly, these strips were sighted from the British Cartoon Archive.

(To the left) Tove Jansson, Abstract Sea, 1963, Oil, 73 x 100cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen and (To the right) Tove Jansson, Family, 1942, Oil, 89 x 116 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Tove Jansson, Mysterious Landscape, c. 1930, Oil on plywood, 61 x 152.5 cm, Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Tove Jansson, Sleeping in the Roots, 1930s, gouache and Indian ink on paper, 22.1 x 26.7 cm, Tampere Art Museum, Moominvalley. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

Tove Jansson, Comic strip Moomin on the Riviera, 1955, British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

A powerful self-portrait that we’d like to throw light on is that of the Smoking Girl, 1940. A great instrument of art, the portrait reveals a challenging and tough Jansson, proving the toughest period in her life. Two years later, she paints the Lynx Boa expressing a rather calmer and softer Jansson armoured with endless courage and self-esteem.

Tove Jansson, Smoking Girl (Self-Portrait), 1940, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis. ©Moomin Characters

Tove Jansson, Lynx Boa (Self-Portrait), 1974, Oil, 73 x 60.5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

What’s known little about the artist is her love for caricature sketches. What began as talent at a tender age of 15 soon caught the attention of the political and liberal magazine, Garm where she sketched over 500 caricatures and 100 cover images for the magazine. While Tove’s paintings spoke differently, her illustrations expressed an annihilation of war that were fearlessly signed against her own name. One such political cartoon that drew international fame is the sketch of Adolf Hitler depicted as a crying baby and surrounded by several European leaders trying to calm him by giving him slices of cake. Such illustrations greatly indicated Jansson’s bold opposition to fascism, totalitarianism and war, and a satirical sense of humour.

Tove Jansson, Self-Portrait, 1975, Oil, 65 x 47 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.

(To the left) Sketch of Adolf Hitler depicted as a crying baby and surrounded by several European leaders trying to calm him by giving him slices of cake. ( Tove Jansson, Garm N:o 10, 1938, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen.) (To the right) Tove Jansson, Cover illustration for the magazine Garm, 1944, Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis. ©Moomin Characters.

“In Europe and the world today, Tove’s art and stories are more relevant than ever. Her entire oeuvre and way of thinking are characterised by the acceptance of differences. Although the family circle – both the artist’s own and the fictional Moomin family – is central, the door is always open for those seeking shelter. Tove Jansson’s works convey a profound understanding of human diversity. This show will reveal fascinating new insights into a colourful life and the work that came out of it,” says Sointu Fritze, Curator of the exhibition.

Tove Jansson, Illustration for the book Moominland Midwinter, c. 1956, scrape drawing on cardboard, 13 x 18,5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.

Tove Jansson in her studio ©Per Olov Jansson

Agreeing with Curator Sointu Fritze’s perspective, the exhibition would certainly spotlight fascinating new insights to Jansson’s work and would reveal a lot more of Jansson’s creations, many of which are unusual, rare and addictive. Look out for another article on Tove Jansson’s Museum and Café, coming soon on CQ.

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