Between Light and Darkness: New Perspectives in Symbolism Research — Publication out now!

Between Light and Darkness: New Perspectives in Symbolism Research is the first issue in the series Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century published by the Birch and the Star. This publication builds on the 2010 Symposium Between Light and Darkness which was held at the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki. It explores issues related to religion, mysticism, and subjectivity in Symbolist art and theory, the fin-de-siècle relationship between art and science, and the continuation of the Symbolist influence after the fin-de-siècle period.

Click here to view the publication

Call for papers: European Revivals III – Aesthetic Values in National Context

Research Conference, Oslo, 22–24 October 2014
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo

Please note:
The abstract submission deadline has been postponed until May 12.

Initiated by the Ateneum Art Museum (The Finnish National Gallery), and established in 2009, the ‘European Revivals’ research network aims to reflect upon national revivals in European art around 1900. This will be the third in a series of conferences that focus on this topic. The first two were held in Helsinki (Ateneum) in 2009 and 2012. A fourth conference will take place in Edinburgh in 2017. The European Revivals project will culminate in a publication and an exhibition, generated by the Ateneum Art Museum, and opening in Helsinki in autumn 2017.
This particular conference is a three-way initiative by The National Museum (Oslo), the Ateneum Art Museum (Helsinki) and the Scottish National Gallery (Edinburgh) and will run from 22–24 October 2014 in Oslo. The event is intended as a meeting point for both museums and university scholars. There will be three keynote speakers, each speaking on one of the three main themes of the conference. A detailed program of the conference will be announced by the end of June. There will be a moderate conference fee. Continue reading

‘Primitive Renaissances’: Northern European and Germanic Art at the Fin de Siècle to the 1930s

In association with Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance
(The National Gallery, London: 19 February – 11 May 2014)

11 & 12 April 2014
The National Gallery, Sainsbury Wing: Sainsbury Lecture Theatre


Conference organized by Professor Juliet Simpson (Buckinghamshire New University-Wolfson College, Oxford) in collaboration with Dr Susan Foister (The National Gallery) and Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein (University of York).


Full Conference Rate (2 days including tea and coffee: both days): £75; Concession Rate: £55

Conference Rate (single day including tea and coffee): £40; Concession Rate: £30

ALL TICKETS CAN BE BOOKED AND PURCHASED FROM THE NATIONAL GALLERY (follow link to Strange Beauty, then to ‘Related Events’ tab, then Strange Beauty Conference)

Click here for programme and details

Patricia G. Berman’s lecture on Munch, 6 February at Ateneum Art Museum

Patricia G. Berman’s lecture:

“Place, Space and Memory in the Art of Edvard Munch”

Thursday 6 February 2014 at 3 pm (15.00), Ateneum Hall, Ateneum Art Museum

Patricia G. Berman is Professor of Art at Wellesley College and the University of Oslo. She is an expert on the art of Edvard Munch and James Ensor, and on Danish painting in the nineteenth century.

The lecture is in English and will last approximately one hour. There will be time for discussion after the lecture, and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

The lecture is free of charge. Welcome!

International Symposium: Richard Wagner and the North

Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, November 8–9, 2013

During his lifetime, Richard Wagner’s (1813–1883) only visit to the Nordic countries was to Norway: in July of 1839 his ship Thetis was caught in a storm and sought refuge in Sandvika. There is also a legend that Wagner visited the Imatra rapids in eastern Finland during his stay in St. Petersburg in 1863.

Wagner’s music, however, not only visited the Nordic countries, but also became a permanent resident in the national opera houses there. Rienzi was first performed in Stockholm in 1865, followed by Der Fliegende Holländer (1872), Lohengrin (1874) and Tannhäuser (1878). The Royal Opera in Copenhagen began its Wagner performances with Lohengrin (1870), soon followed by Die Meistersinger (1872) and Tannhäuser (1875). In Kristiania and Helsinki regular Wagner performances started much later, as national opera institutions with regular programmes began only in the 20th century. However, touring or temporary companies performed Wagner for Nordic audiences, for instance, in Finland with Tannhäuser (Helsinki, 1857). The first Wagner opera performed in Riga was Der fliegende Holländer (1843) and in Tallinn, Tannhäuser (1853). Lohengrin reached St. Petersburg in 1868.

Several singers originating in the Nordic countries made unforgettable careers thanks to Wagner repertoire, including Olive Fremstad (1871–1951), Lauritz Melchior (1890–1973), Kirsten Flagstad (1895–1962), Birgit Nilsson (1918–2005) and Anita Välkki (1926–2011). In addition to singers, many conductors, such as Armas Järnefelt (1869–1958), and stage directors, including Stefan Herheim (b. 1970) and Kasper Holten (b. 1973), have developed a special attachment to Wagner’s operas.

  • Keynote speakers: Barry Millington (UK), Hannu Salmi (Finland) and Eero Tarasti (Finland). The inauguration of the conference: Tiina Rosenberg, the rector for the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Continue reading

Seminar in Celebration of Professor Pirjo Lyytikäinen

A seminar will be organized in celebration of the 60th birthday of Professor Pirjo Lyytikäinen, who is also a member of the Scientific Committee of the Birch and the Star.

The language of the seminar if Finnish.

Kotimaisen kirjallisuuden professori Pirjo Lyytikäinen täyttää 60 vuotta 10.10.2013. Järjestämme hänen kunniakseen perjantaina 11.10.2013 juhlaseminaarin “Esitetty nainen taiteissa”.

Seminaarissa julkistetaan professori Lyytikäisen juhlakirja “Kirjallisuuden naiset. Naisten esityksiä 1840-luvulta 2000-luvulle” (SKS), jonka ovat toimittaneet Riikka Rossi ja Saija Isomaa. Myös päivänsankarin uusin teos “Leena Krohn ja allegorian kaupungit” (SKS) julkistetaan samassa tilaisuudessa.

Seminaari pidetään Helsingin yliopiston pienessä juhlasalissa (Fabianinkatu 33, 4. krs), ja se on kaikille avoin. Lämpimästi tervetuloa! Continue reading

Dream Spaces around 1900: Architecture, Design and Art – Session at Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair, Royal College of Art, London,10 – 12 April 2013

Call for Papers

The decades around 1900 were a period of such varied experimentation that any attempt to apply labels, particularly those based on formal style, inevitably creates artificial exclusions and divisions. Despite much work in recent decades on the art, architecture and design of the period, it remains conceptually difficult to work outside the categories that are deeply embedded in our scholarly traditions. Symbolism and Art Nouveau are both labels whose definitions have been widened to try and accommodate the diversity and geographical range of the period. Both movements resist straightforward positioning in relation to the dominant discourse of Modernism. It remains challenging to reconcile the ideas of escape, nostalgia and the subjective dream space that prevailed at this time with the engagement with the contemporary world valorised by the label Modern.

This session invites researchers to consider how their work relates to the binaries that still linger behind our sense of what is progressive or modern but that were in such a tangled relationship at this period. Progress: retreat; forwards: backwards; reveal: conceal; clarity: obscurity. We welcome contributions with a focus on any area of visual or material culture between 1880 and 1920.

Please submit your proposal (max. 250 words) by 11 November 2013 to:

Charlotte Ashby c.ashby(at)
Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff  Anna-Maria.vonBonsdorff(at)

Click here for more information about the AAH Annual Conference 2014

Call for Papers: Richard Wagner and the North

Richard Wagner and the North

International Symposium, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, November 8–9, 2013


ORGANIZERS: The University of the Arts (Sibelius Academy/DocMus and the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts), Opera on the Move project (the Academy of Finland), the Finnish Wagner Society, and the Birch and the Star Association.

Keynote speakers: Barry Millington (UK), Hannu Salmi (Finland) and Eero Tarasti (Finland). Continue reading

Updated Programme: Seminar on Beda Stjernschantz 10 April 2013 at Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland

10–10.30 Registration

10.30 Welcome Speech: Museum Director Kai Kartio. Opening Words: Torsten Stjernschantz.

10.45 Juha-Heikki Tihinen, University of Helsinki

Tangible Elusiveness ­– Realized and Unrealized Artistic Ideas in the Oeuvre of Beda Stjernschantz

11.15 Asta Kihlman, University of Turku

“The unmoved eye and the look of eternity”

11.45–13.15 Lunch Break (not included) and possibility to visit the exhibition ART DECO and the Arts

13.15 Marja Lahelma, University of Helsinki

Beda Stjernschantz and the Timeless Ideal

13.45 Bart Pushaw, University of Chicago

A Swedish Karelia?  Beda Stjernschantz’s Everywhere A Voice Invites Us

14.15 Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki

In search of sacred art – Beda Stjernschantz and Anna Bremer on the Island of Vormsi 1895

14.45–15.00 Coffee Break

15.00 Edyta Barucka, University of Warsaw

”I embrace the common…”: Beda Stjernschantz’s, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s and Stanislaw Wyspianski’s botanical drawings

15.30 Salla Heino, Design Museum, Helsinki

Beda Stjernschantz’s Sketches for the Friends of Finnish Handicraft – Designing Finnish Textiles

16.00 Roundtable Talks

17.30 Cocktail Reception

Venue: Amos Anderson Art Museum, Yrjönkatu 27, 00100 Helsinki, Finland