Espoo Museum of Modern Art

Experiments in Concretism at EMMA offers spatial experiences, powerful colours and geometric shapes

Experiments in Concretism © Ari Karttunen / EMMA
Experiments in Concretism © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

Experiments in Concretism launches the spring season at EMMA by exploring the various forms and experiential nature of concrete art. The exhibition charts the broad spectrum of concretism through a dialogue between different modes of expression, material diversity and playfulness. The exhibition is curated from art in EMMA’s collections and includes works by more than 50 artists from the 1950s to the present day, as well as new commissions. The exhibition also celebrates the centenary of the birth of Lars-Gunnar ‘Nubben’ Nordström (1924–2014), a pioneer of concrete art in Finland. 

Lars-Gunnar ‘Nubben’ Nordström was a pioneer of concretism in Finland. Starting in the 1950s, he created his own formal language based on structure and geometry. Fascinated by countless variations of colour, line and surface, he remained true to his distinctive formal language until the end of his career. Experiments in Concretism at EMMA celebrates the artist’s centenary by showcasing the continuum and contemporary forms of concretist art, with a special focus on contemporary art. Through the work of Nubben and his contemporaries it also serves as a time capsule into the origins of concretism.

At the core of the exhibition is impactful and experimental nature of concrete art. The show is curated to highlight the skilful use of materials, structures and colours by artists in the movement, as well as the variety of expressive forms in concretism. Many of the featured works have a spatial quality and activate the viewer’s senses. At EMMA, the works engage in a particular kind of dialogue with the industrial and geometric architecture of the museum, the WeeGee Building designed by Aarno Ruusuvuori in the 1960s. 

Experiments in Concretism © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

Experiments in Concretism stresses the importance of museum collections. Most of the nearly 90 works by more than fifty artists are from the museum’s own EMMA Collection. The exhibition also includes some new acquisitions as well as commissioned works. In celebration of the centenary of Nubben, the L-G Nordström Foundation has supported the exhibition in a unique way by commissioning works from artist Elina Autio and donating them to EMMA to be included in the show. Works were also acquired from artist Maija Närhinen and Elina Juopperi. All artists share an interest in spatial expression and in the transformability and process nature of the works.

“The legacy of concretism is alive today and is constantly renewed in the work of contemporary artists. By juxtaposing reinterpretations of modernism with early concretist art, we can examine the variations of concrete art from modernist interpretations to the interactive, spatial and embodied experience of contemporary art,” says Henna Paunu, Chief Curator at EMMA who is one of the exhibition’s curators. “Our large and growing collection is an important resource that allows EMMA to present such a comprehensive body of concretist work.” 

Experiments in Concretism © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

Experiments in Concretism is on display at EMMA from 6.3.2024 to 2.3.2025. The featured artists are: Timo Aalto, Martti Aiha, Siim-Tanel Annus, Elina Autio, Stig Baumgartner, Inka Bell, Juhana Blomstedt, Bård Breivik, Birger Carlstedt, Kari Cavén, Lars Christensen, Jacob Dahlgren, Sonia Delaunay, Ann Edholm, Carolus Enckell, Beryl Furman, Kristjan Gudmundsson, Jorma Hautala, Erkki Hervo, Mikko Jalavisto, Elina Juopperi, Kaisu Koivisto, Ola Kolehmainen, Matti Koskela, Matti Kujasalo, Muriel Kuoppala, Antti Kytömäki, Leonhard Lapin, Maija Lavonen, Ernst Mether-Borgström, Eila Minkkinen, Sarah Morris, Kasper Muttonen, Maija Närhinen, Pekka Nevalainen, Jussi Niva, Lars-Gunnar Nordström, Paul Osipow, Kyösti Pärkinen, Ritva Puotila, Mari Rantanen, Silja Rantanen, Louis Reith, Ragna Róbertsdóttir, Pekka Ryynänen, Piila Saksela, Pekka Sassi, Hannu Siren, Sandra Sirp, Airi Snellman-Hänninen, Antti Ukkonen, Raimo Utriainen and Irma Weckman.

Experiments in Concretism is part of the centenary of Nubben’s birth. The centenary celebrations include programme at Amos Rex, Ateneum Art Museum, EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Galleria 68, Hanasaari Swedish–Finnish Cultural Centre, Kunsthalle Helsinki, Pro Artibus Foundation/Galleria Elverket, Salmela Art Centre, and Tuusula Art Museum. 

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