Still/Life: Harri Koskinen curates a retrospective of Tapio Wirkkala's work

Paadar’s Ice for Iittala, first shown at the XII Milan Triennale in 1960.
Pictured: Paadar’s Ice for Iittala, first shown at the XII Milan Triennale in 1960.
(Image credit: Matti Silvennoinen)

More than just a retrospective, STILL/LIFE – organised by the Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation, in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Finland’s most prominent name in Modern design, and curated by one of the nation’s most loved contemporary talents, designer Harri Koskinen – reimagines the master’s legacy as a backdrop to today’s design.

Koskinen says of him: 'Throughout my own career I have seen him as a charismatic and relentless designer and artist, who had a very wide view of every sector of the design field. It was not just work; it was a way of life.' The exhibition will start a national tour that opens this month at the Korundi House of Culture in Rovaniemi.

The exhibition is in two parts. STILL emphasises Wirkkala’s aspiration as an artist; he set no limits on materials or function and blurred the lines between artistic fields, as can be seen in his collection of works from plywood to glass. 'Wirkkala was an aesthetician who wanted to work without letting practical limitations of the production affect the result,' explains Koskinen.

For LIFE, Koskinen researched Wirkkala’s interviews and correspondence with friends and colleagues in an attempt to encapsulate his design philosophy, which the master never formally committed to writing. Wirkkala’s half-century-long creative journey is told through many of his personal items, including, of course, his ever-present pipe, and his old Leica M3 camera. His rarely shown black and white photography plus drawings, as well as a series of new imagery of his works is reinterpreted by Finnish contemporary artists Susanna Vento, Riikka Kantinkoski, Mikko Ryhänen and alike.

Pictured: Bolle (1966) for Venini, a handmade and blown glass with the “Incalmo” technique.

Pictured: Bolle (1966) for Venini, a handmade and blown glass with the “Incalmo” technique.

(Image credit: Venini Spa)

Wirkkala's phenomenal drawing skills are less well-known, although Finns will remember the postage stamp he designed for the Helsinki Olympics of 1952

Wirkkala's phenomenal drawing skills are less well-known, although Finns will remember the postage stamp he designed for the Helsinki Olympics of 1952 and the series of Finnish markka banknotes introduced in 1955 etc. In the picture is a drawing of the Sheath knife, designed for Finnish brand Hackman.

(Image credit: Susanna Vento and Riikka Kantinkoski)

'Wirkkala was very enthusiastic photographer and shot many of his own objects; many photos in the archives are actually by him.'

Koskinen comments:  ’Wirkkala was very enthusiastic photographer and shot many of his own objects; many photos in the archives are actually by him.’ Coutesy: Rut Bryk Foundation Archive

(Image credit: Wirkkala)

Romantica

Pictured: Romantica. Coutesy: Rut Bryk Foundation Archive

(Image credit: Tapio Wirkkala)

Pollo for Rosenthal designed in 1970s.

Pictured: Pollo for Rosenthal designed in 1970s.

(Image credit: Rosenthal GmbH)

Wirkkala produced many delicate glass artworks early in his career.

Wirkkala produced many delicate glass artworks early in his career.

(Image credit: Mikko Ryhänen)

The Kantarelli vase – still in production – was first released as part of Iittala's collection in 1947.

The Kantarelli vase – still in production – was first released as part of Iittala's collection in 1947.

(Image credit: Mikko Ryhänen)

INFORMATION

STILL/LIFE will move on to the Sámi Museum Siida in Lapland next April, and a retrospective of Rut Bryk – the graphic designer, ceramic artist and Wirkkala’s wife – will be held at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art in the following month.

ADDRESS

Korundi House of Culture

Lapinkävijäntie 4, 96100 Rovaniemi, Finland

Sámi Museum Siida

Inarintie 46, 99870 Inari, Finland

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